SALT LAKE CITY — Once again, the two-party balance of power on the Salt Lake County Council has the potential to shift, depending on how the upcoming general election pans out.
Today, Republicans have a narrow majority on the 9-member council leading the largest county in Utah. But with five seats up for election — with all but one attracting challengers of opposite parties — that could change.
The most far-reaching race is for the County Council's third at-large seat, currently held by longtime Councilman Jim Bradley, a Democrat. His Republican challenger is a familiar face: former state Rep. Sophia DiCaro. Green Party member Adam Guymon is also running in the race as a write-in candidate.
Two other Democratic incumbents are also up for re-election, but only one has drawn challengers.
Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw is running in District 1 unopposed, but Councilwoman Ann Granato — who was appointed to serve in the District 4 seat after the death of her husband, Councilman Sam Granato — is fighting to serve the remaining two years of his term. Republican Michelle Quist, an attorney and former editorial writer, is running against Ann Granato, along with United Utah candidate Robert Cundick, a medical software developer.
Two Republican incumbents are up for re-election. In District 3, Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton is up against Democrat Lisa Gehrke, a nurse. For District 5, it's Councilman Steve DeBry versus Democrat Pamela Berry, a filmmaker and photographer.
While there's always been an "undercurrent" of politics on the Salt Lake County Council, Bradley characterized the race between him and DiCaro as "delightful," and refreshingly friendly.
"If this were a rabid partisan hellhole, I wouldn't be here," Bradley said of the County Council, though he acknowledged the at-large seat is important to his party.
For DiCaro, the sentiment is the same, though she called the seat "important to everybody." She, too, characterized the race as "very" amicable — focused on issues rather than politics.
"There's a lot of noise (in politics) today, and unfortunately it's become very toxic," DiCaro said, adding that she has no idea how the national political climate may affect the race between her and Bradley.
For the at-large seat, it's a contest of experience.
Bradley was first elected to the County Council in 2000. He also served as chairman of the former Salt Lake County Commission from 1990 to 1994. Bradley sits on a number of boards and commissions, including the newly created Central Wasatch Commission and the Unified Police Department board.
DiCaro served for two years in the Utah House of Representatives representing northern West Valley City. Prior to her time in the Legislature, DiCaro worked in the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget, and later in the Governor's Office of Economic Development.
Bradley said he's running for another six-year term because he said his work isn't done on "very important issues" — including the Central Wasatch Commission — but he pledged it would be his last term.
"I've probably had a good run, and if the people will give me one more term, I'll do a good job and thank them profusely," he said.
DiCaro, however, said she's running to bring a fresh perspective to the Salt Lake County Council.
"While I appreciate (Bradley's) service, I want to be able to bring my experience to the County Council and try to make a change and give the voters another voice," she said.
Bradley pointed to his work improving the overall "quality of life" in Salt Lake County, including his work to improve arts and culture, and protect foothills and canyon areas from development.
"Your surroundings matter to you, you're quality of life matters to you," Bradley said. "I have served several terms, but I've done so with always the idea of what's best for the people."2 comments on this story
DiCaro said she would use her budget experience to be "fiscally conservative," but also use her collaboration skills to focus on issues including regional transportation and planning, affordable housing and homelessness.
"I come with expertise, but also I come with a new lens," DiCaro said, noting that she took public engagement seriously when she served in the House. "I'll bring that level (of engagement) … and I'll serve with constituents in mind, front and center."