MURRAY — Salt Lake County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw has become the third Democrat to join the race to replace Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams when he leaves for Congress.
Bradshaw, in front of a crowd of supporters holding campaign signs, officially launched his bid Monday. He'll face two candidates fresh off the campaign trail: former Congressional candidate Shireen Ghorbani and former U.S. Senate candidate Jenny Wilson.
Bradshaw and Wilson, also a Salt Lake County councilwoman, have been close colleagues, both currently serving on the same side of the political aisle on the Salt Lake County Council.
But Bradshaw says he's the candidate with the executive experience, foresight and collaborative skills to be mayor of Salt Lake County.
And, like Wilson, Bradshaw pledged to run again in 2020 when his term would end.
"Experience matters. Vision matters," Bradshaw said. "I am running for mayor because I am a bridge builder who has both."
Bradshaw officially launched his campaign with a news conference at Wheeler Farm, a place he said embodied not only "the best of county government" — as a place that blends history, family fun and educational opportunities to connect the urban valley with Utah's rural roots — but also a place he said "mirrored" his own upbringing.
Bradshaw said his father was born in Murray, and he and his mother raised his four brothers and three sisters "among the potato fields of rural Idaho." There, Bradshaw said he "grew up on a farm, irrigating fields in preparation of fall harvest," and he spent days "separating clods of dirt from potatoes."
The work, he said, "taught me you can accomplish a lot with a little hard work and discipline."
"My parents instilled in me the importance of family, the dignity of work, and with seven siblings you learn a lot about collaboration," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw, the Mountain West Regional Director of the Best Friends Animal Society, became Salt Lake County's first openly gay councilman when he was first elected in 2010.
He has a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's of public administration from the University of Utah.
"I entered politics because I want to serve our community," Bradshaw said. "I saw the impact local government has on our lives and that the choices made at the local level impact communities for years.
"I also believe in the need for more voices to be heard," Bradshaw added. "As a member of a minority group, I thought it was important to be one of those voices."
Bradshaw said his eight years on the County Council, as well as his experience in the private sector, have given him the experience to lead an organization as big as Salt Lake County.
"I have the experience to step into the role of county mayor and hit the ground running," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw pledged to "build bridges" to advance clean air policies and prioritize criminal justice programs. If elected, he also promised to ask the County Council to authorize a bond vote in 2020 to protect the county's remaining open space.
A handful of other Salt Lake County elected officials came to support Bradshaw Monday, including District Attorney Sim Gill and County Councilman Jim Bradley. Equality Utah Director Troy Williams, as well as Salt Lake City Councilwoman Amy Fowler, also joined.
Bradley, who works alongside both Bradshaw and Wilson on the council, acknowledged it's a "little awkward" to support one and not the other, but he said he chose Bradshaw because he has an "impressive" in-depth understanding of issues.
"I've been able to observe Arlyn and Jenny, and I like them both. I consider them friends," Bradley said. "But Arlyn has always put his nose to the grindstone. … He has a broad understanding of all those things that are important to us all."
Murray City Council Chairwoman Diane Turner also spoke in support of Bradshaw, who was her campaign manager 13 years ago when she ran for Salt Lake County Council. Turner said her city "in the shadow of Salt Lake City" can often "feel forgotten and overlooked" by the county.Comment on this story
"One of the many reasons I am supporting Arlyn is that I know he will be a mayor for all the county," Turner said. "Arlyn is a collaborator with a vision which includes the entire county, not just Salt Lake City."
McAdams will remain mayor until Jan. 2 when his resignation takes effect. After he resigns, that starts a 30-day clock for the Salt Lake County Democratic Party's central committee, made up of about 1,000 members, to vote on a replacement mayor to serve out the remainder of the term.