SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Incumbent Erin Mendenhall has won her reelection bid for mayor of Utah’s capital in a ranked-choice contest that included a challenge by Salt Lake City’s former Mayor Rocky Anderson.
Ballot returns released Wednesday, which included all scannable ballots in the Salt Lake County clerk’s possession, showed Mendenhall with 58% of the vote to Anderson’s 34%, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“As seemed pretty clear last night, these more final results clearly indicate that Mayor Mendenhall has won reelection,” Anderson said. “I wish her the very best and I hope she and her team succeeds.”
Mendenhall’s campaign said Anderson called the mayor Wednesday afternoon to concede.
Though the position of mayor is officially nonpartisan, the city is largely Democratic in a mostly Republican state.
At her election night party Tuesday, Mendenhall told her supporters she would “regroup for a second term” with new energy and urgency.
“This election ends with voters saying loudly and clearly that they want Salt Lake City to keep moving forward together,” Mendenhall said. “Salt Lakers are not afraid of our incredible future. We’re excited by it. This election was a repudiation of cynicism, and it was a rejection of the politics of fear.”
An Oct. 24 debate that included three of the mayoral candidates touched on several of the main issues: conserving water, fighting climate change, reducing crime and addressing homelessness.
Anderson, who served two terms from 2000-2008, had criticized Mendenhall for not doing enough to ease the rising cost of housing. He proposed mixed income housing built by the city to help solve the problem rather than Mendenhall’s approach, which involves working more closely with developers.
This was the first Salt Lake City mayor’s race since the capital, along with a number of Utah cities, instituted ranked-choice voting in 2021. The system allows voters to rank the three candidates, regardless of party.
If no candidate claims a majority, the candidate who finishes third is eliminated, and voters’ second- and third-choice picks determine the winner.