SALT LAKE CITY – The ballot for Salt Lake City Mayor’s race in November is half-full. City Councilperson Erin Mendenhall claims the early lead, but, she isn’t entirely sure who she’ll run against.
Overall voter turnout for this year’s primary election was quite low. Only 29,217 had been reported as being processed by the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, and there isn’t much difference between the top three candidates. Mendenhall has the lead, followed by former State Senator Jim Dabakis and State Senator Luz Escamilla.
Mendenhall says her campaign only raised a quarter of the funds some of her competitors did, but, they focused more on finding and speaking with voters.
“We know who we need to target in the general election. We’re going to win this thing and I can’t wait to get to work on it,” she says.
Job growth is one of the things she plans to campaign on.
“I want a tech ecosystem in Salt Lake. We’ve seen those companies slip through our fingers to the Silicon Slopes. We need that kind of investment and that kind of job opportunity,” Mendenhall says.
However, she says her biggest focus will be cleaning the air.
Mendenhall says, “Air quality is the lens through which I see everything that we work on, from affordable housing to the transit system we need to upgrade.”
Jim Dabakis says clean air is also going to be the biggest focus of his campaign. He wants to expand free fare zones for public transit to entice more people to leave their cars at home. He believes a lot of politicians have talked about it, but there has been very little action about it.
“Yakity, yak, yak yak about clean air. Well, it’s time to sit down and do something about it,” he says.
Plus, he believes the city needs to work more closely with county and state leaders to solve bigger issues. He believes previous city leadership may have been thinking “too small.”
Dabakis says, “We have a $100 billion problem when it comes to affordable housing. We need a $100 billion solution.”
Dabakis only leads third place candidate, Luz Escamilla, by 109 votes, and she believes it’s too soon to concede or drop out of the race.
“We’ll wait for the process. It’s not unheard of in Utah. We just had, in 2018, one that lasted for a while,” Escamilla says.
The Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office will be verifying provisional ballots through the next few weeks.
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