Salt Lake County mayoral hopefuls Mark Crockett, Ben McAdams battle for undecided voters

Published: Sunday, Oct. 28 2012 5:00 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake County mayoral candidate Mark Crockett chats with a homeowner during a precinct walk in Taylorsville on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2012.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The race for Salt Lake County mayor has come down to a battle for undecided voters as the candidates push forward in a tight race toward Election Day.

Republican Mark Crockett and Democrat Ben McAdams are seeking the post Peter Corroon has manned for the past eight years.

A Dan Jones & Associates poll conducted in September for the Deseret News and KSL showed Crockett leading by 3 points. But with both candidates locked within the 5 percent margin of error and 21 percent of voters yet to make up their minds, it's anyone's race.

Crockett fought his way through a tightly contested GOP primary against West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder, being declared the winner after two weeks of waiting for mail-in ballots to be counted and verified. 

McAdams was named the Democratic candidate at convention, securing the spot over fellow state Sen. Ross Romero.

On a single day in October, the candidates each were out with supporters, walking through neighborhoods and sharing their respective visions with voters.

Crockett in Taylorsville

Crockett and more than a dozen supporters were out walking house to house Oct. 13 in Taylorsville. The candidate was full of jokes and questions as he got to know voters, recruiting them to volunteer come January if he's able to prevail against McAdams.

"We're going to need help from a lot of people in the community to help us redesign programs and volunteer in the service organizations," he said. "We're looking for good people, even if it's only an hour a week."

At least one resident who spoke with Crockett said she hopes he calls her to help next year.

Aimee McConkie, a Millcreek resident, was a member of her community council during Crockett's time on the Salt Lake County Council. McConkie has been with the Crockett campaign since the beginning, and she joined the candidate's precinct walk to tell voters what kind of a leader she sees in Crockett.

"It was an amazing thing to be able to empower people on the front lines and to look at, 'What are the people facing?'" she said. "I saw how Mark Crockett ignited those thoughts and ideas in peoples' minds, to go and lead and work in their community." 

Crockett said he is focusing on human services and the county's budget as he talks to voters.

"That's what I've always tried to talk about. They're the defining issues," Crockett said. "They're (the reasons) why I got into the race."

Human services are the "unique role in county government," Crockett said, adding that Salt Lake County needs to step up assistance for mental health and drug treatment programs, jails, assistance for refugees and support for at-risk youth. Improving human services will strengthen the community as well as the budget, he said.

Crockett gave the example of mentally ill individuals who are repeatedly sent to hospital emergency rooms, homeless shelters and jails rather than treatment programs as a shortcoming of the county's current human services.

"That doesn't seem to be solving the underlying problem," Crockett said. "If we can help direct them into a better, less expensive mental health treatment … then they can be productive people in the community at a lower cost than we spend today."

Crockett also is troubled by the nearly $2 billion he says the county has borrowed under the Corroon administration.

The Republican's criticisms sparked response from the mayor, with Corroon calling Crockett's claims "misleading" and a "campaign of fear." The county's debt is actually closer to $508 million, Corroon said, which includes $74 million toward state roads that the county agreed to shoulder as the state neared its bonding capacity.

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