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.
"I have the time, credentials and passion to work collaboratively with both the council and residents to keep Holladay City on an upward trajectory," Dahle said on his campaign website.
Dahle captured 51 percent of the vote over his opponent, while incumbent Dennis R. Webb didn't run.
As a longtime West Jordan resident, Kim Rolfe has seen the city's growth and the efforts of small businesses. In addition to a pledge for keeping taxes low and support for the local economy, the former city councilman's campaign included commitment to "maintain, not replace" when it comes to the city's infrastructure.
"The increase in population over the years means that roads, sewers and the transportation in our city is a major priority, as we expect the city to continue to grow rapidly," Rolfe said on his campaign website. "We must plan for the future by ensuring that the city infrastructure is properly maintained and upgraded in anticipation of the growth in the coming years."
West Jordan incumbent Mayor Melissa Johnson did not pursue re-election.
Lifetime Herriman resident Carmen Freeman put economic issues at the top of his campaign platform, citing the need to attract new business to the area.
"Herriman can no longer depend on impact fees for its primary source of revenue," Freeman said. "The long-term financial stability of Herriman will depend on sales tax revenue derived from companies and organizations conducting business in Herriman."
Incumbent Clint Smith, who was appointed in August to finish out Mayor Joshua Mills' term, did not run for office.
In Davis County, Rick Earnshaw and Tamara Long secured convincing victories over incumbent mayors in Woods Cross and South Weber, respectively. City Councilman Earnshaw captured 60 percent of the vote over Mayor Kent Parry, while Long received 59 percent of the vote over Mayor Jeffery Monroe.
After two terms on the Centerville City Council, Paul Cutler hopes he can preserve a "small-town feel" as the city's mayor.
Part of that, he says on his campaign website, is continued opposition to a streetcar on Main Street.
"It would cost too much, it does not make economic sense, and I think it would make our Main Street traffic even worse," he said. "I live on Main Street, and I want to limit the traffic and width of Main Street in residential areas."
Outgoing Mayor Ronald Russell, who chose not to seek a third term, endorsed Cutler as a qualified and hard-working replacement.
Randy Lewis says he's "Hooked on Bountiful."
Education, economic development, fiscal responsibility and family and community must be priorities for the city he admires, said Lewis, a businessman and committee member for the Davis County Chamber of Commerce. Lewis said on his campaign website he hopes to continue the successful work of past mayors.
Incumbent Mayor Joe Johnson didn't run for re-election.
In Layton, Bob Stevenson will replace Mayor Steve Curtis, who did not seek re-election and died unexpectedly on Nov. 29. Curtis served nearly eight years as mayor and 10 years on the Layton City Council. Councilman Jory Francis was selected as mayor pro term until Stevenson is sworn in.
In other areas of Davis County, Mark Shepherd was elected mayor of Clearfield, H. James Talbot will lead Farmington, Don Carroll was elected in Fruit Heights, and Terry Palmer was elected in Syracuse.
Don Watkins is returning as mayor of Alpine, a post he held from 1998 to 2002. The businessman who has lived in the city for three decades promised to protect the area's hillsides and mountains; run an effective, conservative government; and preserve Alpine's small-town charm, according to his website. Watkins ousted incumbent Hunt Willoughby.
Richard Brunst, whose international business is based out of Orem, advocated for "getting our city fiscally responsible again" by not getting into new debt. He also called for change in management of UTOPIA while stemming the financial bleed it has been on the city.
In Eagle Mountain and Pleasant Grove, the incumbent candidates were unseated by Christopher Pengra and Mike Daniels, respectively.
Jim Miller was elected to succeed Mia Love, who did not run again, as mayor of Saratoga Springs.
Steve Leifson was elected mayor of Spanish Fork, Jeff Acerso was elected in Lindon, Mark Thompson was elected in Highland, and Fred Jensen was elected in Goshen.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: McKenzieRomero
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company