WEST VALLEY CITY — The ballot for municipal elections in Utah's most ethnically diverse city fittingly includes a Vietnamese American, Latin American and Samoan American.
Recent U.S. Census data show that West Valley City has a 52 percent minority population, jumping from 9 percent in 1990 and 35 percent in 2010. It's a demographic shift that is slowly being reflected in the city's elected leaders.
Tom Huynh, a Vietnamese America, has filed as a candidate for mayor after having served since 2011 as the city's first ethnic minority member of the City Council.
Huynh, who fled Vietnam when he was just 19, said his time on the City Council has been an opportunity to give back to his Utah community.
"When I came here, I didn't have anything except a pair of jeans and a T-shirt," said Huynh, 50. "Now I have a job, I have a family, and I've moved forward and got to do a lot of good things in our community."
Huynh is running against incumbent Mayor Ron Bigelow, Councilwoman Karen Lang, and Joshua Cameron, a researcher at the University of Utah.
Latin American candidate Frank Bedolla said he doesn't believe the current City Council represents West Valley's diversity, and he's running for an at-large seat on the council in hopes of changing that.
The Hispanic community represents a significant part of West Valley's demographic makeup with 38 percent, according to Census data.
"We need to make sure that we represent every population that comes in and make sure that they feel welcome, make sure they see West Valley as a place where they can live and raise a family," he said.
Bedolla, 46, said he draws his political experience from 20 years of grass-roots organizing and community outreach.
He's been working to helping young men and fathers find successful employment and build strong families through the Fathers and Families Coalition of Utah.
Bedolla previously ran for the Utah House in 2014 and 2016. He's in a two-man race for the at-large council seat with Lars Nordfelt, a longtime West Valley resident and math teacher.
Jake Fitisemanu Jr. has filed as a candidate in the District 4 City Council race, and if he wins, he would become the first Samoan American on the council.
With more than 6,000 Pacific Islanders residing in the city, Fitisemanu said he sees his candidacy as a significant advancement for his community.
"We have a very large Pacific Islander and Asian and Latino community here that I don't feel is represented on our current City Council," Fitisemanu said. "While intentions are good, there is definitely room for improvement in terms of reaching out to these communities that do have unique needs and issues, and who are often overlooked."
Fitisemanu, 35, is co-founder of the Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition and served as a member of President Obama's advisory commission on Asian and Pacific Islander communities. He said he appreciated his role as a liaison between local communities and higher levels of government, as well as being a mouthpiece for underserved groups.
Fitisemanu faces incumbent Councilman Steve Vincent and challenger Lynn Sanderson in the District 4 race.
Incumbent Councilman Steve Buhler, Jeremy Anderson and Philip Wayman are vying to be District 2's representative on the council.