Back when Janice Auger was in the sixth grade, her dad caught her red-handed reading a newspaper account about Dwight Eisenhower's presidential campaign.

"He told me to go outside and just be a kid," she recalled.That kid never lost her interest in politics or public service. She went on to major in political science, became active in the Young Republicans, worked for the GOP and, in 1995, won election as the only woman on Taylorsville's first City Council.

These days, Auger will be the first to tell you she's not a kid any more - but she does have a sign on her door that says "mayor."

Holding public office, she said, is something she only used to dream about years ago when she was plowing through those college texts on political science.

"I thought about it almost the way you'd fantasize about a Cadillac," Auger said. "I didn't think it was real.

"Even eight years ago, I didn't see this in my future," she added.

But then, Auger has never been one to back away from challenges that are new and a bit different.

"Once," she admitted, "I tended my mother-in-law's skunk."

Bringing a strong accounting and management background to the job along with a gentle but no-nonsense demeanor, Auger serves as Taylorsville's chief executive officer in a "strong mayor" form of government.

Her ability to wrangle numbers and analyze budgets earned her the respect of other council members during her two-year tenure in the council trenches, and all four of Auger's male colleagues supported her campaign for mayor.

Once, when she was running for mayor, Auger remembers talking to one group where she was asked by a man "if I could keep up with the men on the council."

"I said they should be concerned about whether the men could keep up with me," she chuckled. "When I was campaigning for the council, I had numerous men tell me they would like to see at least one woman on the council for the startup of the city because they take care of details and because they see things differently."

Auger said she doesn't necessarily buy the "details" stereotype, but she does believe the diversity of a feminine viewpoint can contribute to good government.

But such issues are rarely raised, the mayor said, and gender has never been something she spends time worrying about.

In fact, when she's not averaging nine or more hours a day on the city's business, Auger admits she'd rather spend any spare time working in her flower garden or watching "Touched by an Angel" on television or going head-to-head with some egghead contestant on the TV quiz show "Jeopardy!"

Despite the number of women holding top government posts in Salt Lake County this year, Auger said she thinks the percentage of women running for office remains fairly small.

"But the time is right," she said. "I believe those who do run are capable women with strong personalities, and they're giving voters a choice more people seem to be willing to take."