Election results: Malena Stevens holds large lead in Summit County Council primary; Johnson, Kohler ahead in Statehouse races UPDATED
Election night in Summit County left Malena Stevens in a commanding position to become the next county councilor, as she led the Democratic primary race by nearly 1,000 votes over fellow Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Canice Harte, according to preliminary results released Tuesday.
The primary was unique because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Summit County Clerk’s Office still had hundreds of additional ballots to count, including those received after Monday morning. The total number of outstanding ballots is hard to pin down, as ballots that were sent Tuesday might not arrive until days later.
The election night tally showed Stevens had garnered 1,821 votes (68.67%) to Harte’s 831 (31.33%), a margin that appears insurmountable.
No Republican name will be on the ballot for the Summit County Council seat in November’s general election, so barring a successful write-in campaign, the winner of this contest will serve in office.
Harte acknowledged the deficit in a message to The Park Record Tuesday evening and thanked his supporters for their efforts.
“I wish Malena the best of luck and am excited to get back to work on the planning commission,” Harte wrote.
Stevens said she was honored by the support her campaign received.
“I feel honored that … I have that much support and that it’s at a place that we can move forward and get to work, so I’m very excited and I’m very honored,” she said late Tuesday.
Outgoing County Councilor Kim Carson, who occupies the seat Stevens and Harte were vying for, thanked both candidates for running, saying it isn’t easy for someone to run for office and subject themselves to public scrutiny. Carson endorsed Stevens in the race.
“Malena Stevens has a diversity of skills that will greatly contribute to the Council. I look forward to working with her on orientation to County Council business,” Carson wrote in an email.
Councilors are sworn into office the first meeting of the new year, and Stevens said she is planning to dive into preparations this fall. She said she’s looking forward to acquainting herself with county operations by touring sites she isn’t familiar with, like Public Works and waste management facilities, and meeting with elected officials and department heads.
She stressed the importance of regional cooperation and said she was looking forward to meeting with elected officials from East Side municipalities and neighboring counties.
“The thing I’m looking forward to most is sitting down with public officials from East Side communities,” she said. “… It’s really important that we, and I, develop relationships with East Side councils. The solutions are going to be coming on a regional basis.”
But Stevens noted the results were preliminary.
“I expected it to be much closer, sitting on pins and needles for a week,” she said.
The preliminary results included ballots that had been processed as of Monday. The County Clerk’s Office is quarantining mail once it is received, and roughly 800 ballots that arrived in the mail Tuesday morning were not included in the results, nor were any that were placed in drop boxes after Monday morning, Chief Deputy Clerk Kellie Robinson said.
In a change for this election, ballots could be postmarked until Election Day itself, meaning it was likely they continued to trickle in throughout the week.
Only Democrats and unaffiliated or Republican voters who requested a Democratic ballot could participate in the Democratic primary. Data from the County Clerk’s Office indicates 6,175 Democratic ballots were sent out and 2,668 were returned, so as of Tuesday night, fewer ballots had been counted than those that could potentially be returned.
The 44.62% overall turnout through Tuesday, though, was roughly in line with previous primaries. In the 2016 primary, turnout was 23.75%. In 2018, that number was 44.35%.
Even if all ballots were returned, Harte would need to win the outstanding votes by a nearly two-to-one margin to secure victory.
The tally is slated to be finalized during the canvass July 21.
Other important races
Results reflect the preliminary count as of Thursday morning, and many outstanding ballots had not yet been tallied due to COVID-19. Final results may not be known until the middle of July.
• 1st Congressional District, GOP
Blake Moore and Bob Stevenson left Election Day in a tight race for the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District. Moore was the top vote-getter, with 30.25% of the vote (28,437 votes), but Stevenson was close at 29.38% (27,626 votes). Kerry Gibson and Katie Witt lagged behind at 23.57% (22,161 votes) and 16.8% (15,796 votes), respectively.
Summit County tilted toward Moore, who earned 1,648 votes in the county. Witt, the next closest candidate, garnered 948 votes in the county.
• 1st Congressional District, Democratic
Darren Parry was ahead in the Democratic 1st Congressional District race, meanwhile, with 52.61% of the vote (9,161 votes) to Jamie Cheek’s 47.39% (8,253 votes). The vote was evenly split in Summit County, with Parry edging Cheek by four votes, 1,287 to 1,283.
• State Senate District 19, GOP
John D. Johnson held a firm lead over Johnny Ferry in the race for the Republican nomination in state Senate District 19. Johnson garnered 55.97% of the vote (4,315 votes) to Ferry’s 44.03% (3,395 votes). In Summit County, Johnson narrowly edged Ferry, 818 votes to 799.
• State House District 54, GOP
Mike Kohler appears positioned to advance to November’s general election in state House District 54, taking 68.4% of the vote (4,895 votes) against Randy Favero’s 31.6% (2,261 votes). Favero, who lives in the Park City area, bested Kohler in Summit County, 825 votes to 437.
• South Summit Board of Education Precinct 2
Incumbent Dan Eckert received the most votes in the Precinct 2 race, with 37.21% of the vote (128 votes). David Darcey was in second place, with 33.72% (116 votes), and Mark Mataya was in third, at 29.07% (100 votes). The race is not partisan, meaning the top two vote-getters will face off in November.
Snyderville Basin residents and those living on the East Side could see an increase in their property taxes next year, but it won’t be the result of higher property values.
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