Mike Zuhl, chief of staff to Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis, on Monday formally announced his candidacy for mayor.

DePaulis, who isn't seeking re-election this year, hasn't officially endorsed any candidate - there are two other Democrats besides Zuhl in the race - but was present during Zuhl's announcement on the steps of City Hall.Zuhl has said for months he'll run. He even appeared in an early candidate debate last week at the University of Utah.

"I enter this campaign with confidence and determination: confidence in my ability to do the job and determination to do the job well," he said.

The mayor's race is officially non-partisan; that is, a candidate's political party does not appear next to his name on the ballot. But the race for the top municipal job in Utah always involves some party politics. Of the other candidates, Deedee Corradini is a Democrat, as is state Rep. Dave Jones. Longtime aide to Gov. Norm Bangerter, Dave Buhler, is a Republican.

Norma Matheson, wife of the late Gov. Scott M. Matheson, and Jazz owner Larry Miller are Zuhl's campaign co-chairmen.

Zuhl said of the four candidates now in the race, only he has hands-on, practical experience running a city. "For the last several years I have worked closely on Salt Lake City's planning process - Salt Lake Tomorrow. Other candidates can talk about planning for the future. I have done it."

For 51/2 years, as chief of staff, Zuhl said he's worked closely with neighborhood councils and advocates. "Other candidates can talk about working with neighborhoods, solving their problems. I have done it."

Both as chief of staff and as Matheson's budget director, Zuhl said he's balanced budgets in tough times. "Other candidates can talk about fiscal responsibility and sound budget management. I have done it."

He's worked daily with the hungry, homeless and those in need, Zuhl said. "Other candidates can talk about addressing the problems of the less fortunate. I have done it."

Salt Lake City is on the upswing, Zuhl said. "I believe people are optimistic about the city's future, and we have good reason to be.

"But burning optimism into reality will take hard work. There's a delicate balance between optimism and pessimism, between pride of place and indifference. I'm prepared to make the same commitment to serving as mayor as I've made to running for mayor. I'm prepared. I'm experienced. I'm confident. And I'm determined."