Mark Crockett, Mike Winder on GOP primary ticket for Salt Lake County mayor; Democrat Ben McAdams wins nomination

Published: Saturday, April 14 2012 8:50 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake County mayor candidate Ben McAdams shakes hands with John Stephens at the Salt Lake County Democratic convention at Murray High School in Murray on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Read more: Decision 2012: Utah political races, candidate and delegate information, coverage

SALT LAKE CITY —  Former Salt Lake County Councilman Mark Crockett will face West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder in the June Republican primary for Salt Lake County mayor, with the winner facing Democrat state senator Ben McAdams in November.

GOP delegates ousted former Utah Congressman Merrill Cook, Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott, County Councilman Richard Snelgrove and an internal auditor for the county, Larry Decker.

Then in a second round of voting, 58 percent of the delegates lined up with Crockett and 42 percent went with Winder. The spread was just two points short of a 60 percent win that would have given Crockett the nomination outright.

"Another carton of milk — 2 percent — would have been nice," said Crockett. "We'll take it as a vote of confidence."

The Democrats would have been in a primary except for a party constitution change earlier in the day that set McAdams up for a win in a second round of delegate voting, where he took 61.52 percent of the delegate votes to Romero's 38.48 percent.

The change allows a second round of balloting in races with only two candidates, if either candidate captures 57 percent of the vote. McAdams was just over the threshold in the first round of ballots, forcing another round.

"The delegates felt it was important to avoid a primary and bring our party together today," McAdams said after getting the nomination. "This is inspiring. We had great turnout. There were a lot of new people in the Democratic party."

For the Republicans, Winder said he was excited for the opportunity to still be in the race. "This gives us a few more months to talk about the issues with the voters," he said, adding a primary will make them both stronger candidates come November.

Said Crockett, "There are some meaningful differences between the two of us."

Crockett told delegates he would put in place a transition plan for the county focusing on core services, including incarceration, mental health and drug treatment.

"To transform is not easy," said Crockett, a management consultant. "This is not 'learn-on-the-job' kind of work. But it is what I do for a living."

Winder, who was nominated by his 12-year-old daughter Jessica as a candidate who is "nice and listens," called himself a limited government conservative.

"It would have been easier for me to continue as mayor of West Valley, but I'm concerned about our future," Winder said, promising to fight for local decision making and economic growth.

He said the improvements to Valley Fair Mall show how his policies work. "We need to grow the tax base, not raise our taxes," he said.

Two Salt Lake County Council races also had in-party challengers.

For the at-large seat on the council, Republicans will advance to a primary Melvin D. Nimer, president of the Utah Log Cabin Republicans, and Joseph M. Demma, communications director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services and 2010 campaign manager for Gov. Gary Herbert. The primary winner will face incumbent Democrat Jim Bradley.

Democrat Jani Iwatomo is not seeking re-election for the east-side County Council District 4. Democrats chose restauranteur, former U.S. Senate candidate and former Utah Liquor Control Commission member Sam Granato for the ticket in two rounds of voting. He took 44 percent of delegates in a field of four candidates, then cinched the nomination with 60.46 percent over Occupy SLC activist Deb Henry's 39.54 percent in the second round.

Granato who will face Republican Missy W. Larsen, who won 61 percent of GOP delegates over businessman Craig A. Ward's 39 percent. Larsen is a daughter of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson and sister to former County Council member Jenny Wilson, both Democrats.

Democrats said the party's Saturday convention was beyond capacity with 2,360 attending. "This is the biggest convention the Salt Lake County Democrats have had," said Kenny Wilks, the convention chairman.

In Utah County, the GOP nomination for a county commission seat will be decided in the June primary between Larry Ellertson and Lorne W. Grierson. 

Contributing: Dennis Romboy

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com, sfidel@desnews.com

Twitter: dnewspolitics, SteveFidel

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