SALT LAKE CITY — East-siders, west-siders and those in between will go to the polls Tuesday to select their representation on the City Council for the next four years.
Longtime District 2 councilman Van Turner is seeking a fourth term representing the west-side neighborhoods of Glendale, Jackson and Poplar Grove.
Turner, a lifelong resident and longtime business owner on the west side, is being challenged by Kyle LaMalfa, who's made a name for himself as a community leader and event organizer since moving to the west side in 2003.
On the east side, JT Martin is running for a second term in District 6 — which includes the area from the University of Utah to 2100 South and from 1500 East to the east bench.
Martin, a former District 6 small-business owner, is being challenged by Charlie Luke, a public relations and government affairs consultant.
And in District 4, which includes the Central City, East Downtown, People's Freeway, East Central City and Rio Grande neighborhoods, Luke Garrott is up for re-election in what essentially is an uncontested race.
Jack Gray will be listed on the ballot along with Garrott, though Gray has been absent from the race. He previously ran for the seat in 2003 and 2007 but failed to advance past the primary election on both occasions. Garrott and Gray were the only two candidates to file in District 4 this year, so no primary was necessary.
Turner certainly knows the west side and District 2 in particular. He grew up in Glendale and has spent 40 years as a business owner there.
"I've been here my whole life," Turner said. "I'm dedicated to this part of town. I'm not going anywhere. I just want to make this area better. That's been my lifelong goal."
Turner cites ongoing projects such as the transformation of North Temple into a grand boulevard as his main reason for wanting to serve another four years on the City Council.
But LaMalfa says he believes it's time for a change in District 2. He says the west side needs a stronger voice on the City Council.
"I've got a ton of energy, and I'm ready to be responsive to the needs of the west side," he said.
LaMalfa was the top vote-getter in the primary election, collecting 40 percent of the vote to Turner's 34 percent. West-side activist Michael Clara finished third with 25.7 percent. Clara since has endorsed Turner in the race.
If elected, LaMalfa said he would work to build better partnerships with Salt Lake City School District. Education, he said, is a key component of building stronger communities.
LaMalfa also says he will work to improve neighborhoods by making sure burned-out streetlights are replaced, potholes are filled and graffiti is cleaned up.
Martin started his re-election bid in a hole, earning just 29 percent of the vote in the primary and finishing second to Luke's 45.6 percent.
But Martin since has come on strong, raising more than half of his $44,000 in campaign contributions in September and October. He's also collected a slew of high-profile endorsements, including those from Mayor Ralph Becker, former Mayor Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah.
"I have been a busy and productive councilman for the past four years," Martin said. "I'm proud of the (council's) accomplishments."
In particular, the incumbent councilman cited his work with residents during the city's creation of an ordinance protecting riparian areas, as well as open-space preservation efforts.
Luke said he believes the 45.6 percent who cast their ballots for him in the primary, as well as the 25.5 percent who voted for Tracey Harty, show that District 6 is ready for new representation on the council.
"You have 71 percent of the residents voting to go in a different direction than our incumbent," he said. "That's very telling."
Luke said he believes the city has gotten away from taking care of the basics.
"We've neglected infrastructure," he said. "We've neglected our municipal services."
Luke also has been vocal about seeing a police precinct built on the east side, saying east-side officers are spending more time outside the district than they have in the past.
For Garrott, the lack of a serious challenge has made the campaign less stressful. But he said he's missed out on the exchange and discussion of ideas between candidates.
Garrott, a political science professor at the University of Utah, says he will continue to work to make Salt Lake City more walkable and focus on creating and strengthening neighborhood businesses.
Improving walkability, he said, likely means changing zoning in the city to focus more on design and less on uses.
Attempts to reach Gray for comment were unsuccessful.
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