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New mayors prepare to take office

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2 2014 3:50 p.m. MST

West Jordan Mayor Melissa Johnson, the "Little Bulldog", at home with her punching bag, she doesn't believe in career politicians, so she's getting out of politics for a while Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Jordan.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As Salt Lake County rings in the new year, eight new mayors are preparing to take office.

Ron Bigelow has represented West Valley City once before, and he returns to help Utah's second-largest city as it tries to recover from a year of problems in its Police Department, including the dismissal of 124 state and federal drug cases.

Bigelow represented West Valley areas for more than a dozen years in the Legislature; he then worked two years as state budget director in the governor's office. Bigelow also promised a balanced city budget, no tax increases and efforts toward resolving the city's financial obligations.

First-time politician Dave Alvord hopes his fresh perspective will prove an asset as he and the South Jordan City Council make ongoing zoning concerns a priority as he takes office.

"Our first order of business is to visit the master plan and to give a little more clarity to the zoning," Alvord said. "When you get somebody in there that's new and hasn't held office before, they can have fresh eyes. … I think it's that fresh perspective that the voters liked and that's why they sent me in there in the first place."

Over the past year, residents have packed City Council meetings to raise concerns about village-mixed-use zoning, which allows developers to blend residential and commercial properties.

Alvord, a dental surgeon and owner of Oquirrh Mountain Dental, ousted Mayor Scott Osborne by 100 votes on a platform sympathizing with small-business owners and promising to keep taxes low for residents.

Larry Johnson stepped away from his seat on the Taylorsville City Council to run for mayor, beating out incumbent Jerry Rechtenbach. Johnson's platform focused on avoiding tax increases.

"I believe that the administration needs to do what residents and businesses do: They need to cut back, prioritize and make the best use of what they have," Johnson said on his campaign website.

Ted Eyre hopes to follow in the footsteps of his friend, former Mayor Lynn Pett, who led Murray for eight years and encouraged Eyre to run. In a speech declaring his candidacy, Eyre praised the city's healthy balance between economic development and beautiful neighborhoods.

He became interested in public service, he said, as he watched several races in 2012. "When we talk about a local election, we are not talking about geography. We are talking about values, attitudes and the quality of life for a community of people. There is probably no other political spectrum that affects us more directly," Eyre said.

Eyre succeeds four-term Mayor Dan Snarr, who chose not to seek re-election. Pett preceded Snarr as mayor.

Troy Walker was elected Draper mayor with 52 percent of the vote, promising to help manage "growing pains" in the city that has attracted companies like eBay, Edwards Life Sciences and Ikea in the past several years.

Walker, who is also a member of the Utah Transit Authority board of trustees, emphasized preserving open space and supporting public transit, according to his campaign website.

Walker has served on the Draper City Council since 2008. The incumbent mayor, Darrell Smith, chose not to seek re-election.

Businessman and U.S. Air Force veteran Robert Dahle hopes to carry his management and leadership skills into public service as Holladay's new mayor. Dahle lauded the city's success as a new fire station and City Hall prepare to open, and as work continues on commercial additions set to be completed next summer.

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