SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake County Council elected its first female chairwoman Tuesday.
Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton, a Republican, was elected by the council's GOP majority, making her the first woman to lead the Salt Lake County Council since the inception of the county's council form of government.
Newton, who has been serving on the council since January 2014, said she's "honored" to be elected.
"I believe that a person should be elected based on their qualifications, not their gender," she said. "That being said, I do think it's great when young girls and women see other women elected to public office or in positions of leadership. I hope it encourages them to see their own potential and inspires them to use their voice to get more involved in government."
In the minority, Democratic council members also put forward a female nominee, nominating Councilwoman Jenny Wilson to be the council's next leader.
Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw said he would vote for Wilson because he still had concerns about some Republican council members' decisions not to support the 2018 budget passed last month. Some GOP council members, Newton among them, said they wouldn't support it because of about $367,000 in add-ons to Mayor Ben McAdams' original $1.3 billion budget proposal.
Unsurprisingly, Newton got more votes from the GOP-majority council, 5-4.1 comment on this story
Wilson, who's in the running to take outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch's seat when he retires at the end of the year, thanked her colleagues and drew laughs when she joked about losing the leadership position.
"If I'm going to lose an election in 2018, I'd prefer it to be this one," she said.
Newton takes over for Councilman Steve DeBry, who served as the council's chairman over the past year. He and Newton shook hands as they traded seats after Tuesday's vote.
The council also elected Councilman Max Burdick as vice chairman, Michael Jensen as chairman pro tem, and Bradshaw as minority leader.