In a race that came down to fewer than 30 votes, openly gay Midvale City Council candidate Alan Anderson lost his bid to Paul Hunt, according to unofficial election results. Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted.
During the campaign, Anderson said he wanted to focus on issues that were important to voters, such as revitalizing parts of State Street. However, his sexuality became a focal point for some voters, as did his opponents conviction of wrongful appropriations. Hunt was ordered to pay $31,000 after he was caught using his company credit card for personal expenditures.
Overall, candidates who were endorsed by Equality Utah fared well during the municipal elections. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, who is a very strong ally to the queer community, beat his opponent, J. Allen Kimball, with more than 75 percent of the vote.
Salt Lake City Council District 2 candidate Kyle LaMalfa, who tried to focus the race on issues of education and redevelopment, beat incumbent Van Turner, 57 percent to 42 percent. LaMalfa was also endorsed by EU.
Incumbent Luke Garrott, also endorsed by EU, beat opponent Jack Gray 78 percent to 21 percent for the Salt Lake City Council District 4 seat. In the Salt Lake City Council District 6 race, neither candidate was endorsed by EU and Charlie Luke beat out incumbent J.T. Martin, 61 percent to 38 percent.
Equality Utah-endorsed Ogden Mayor Candidate Mike Caldwell beat Brandon Stephenson with 61 percent of the vote.
Around the state Equality Utah-endorsed candidates were successful and counted victories with Alan Summerhays for Draper City Council, Andy Beerman for Park City Council, Steve Gunn and Jim Palmer in Holladay and Corey Rushton for West Valley City Council. Endorsed candidates who lost their races include Alan Rogers for Filmore City Council, Tara Dunn for St. George City Council, Rick Storrs in American Fork, Yancee Hardy for Provo City Council and Alan Anderson for Midvale City Council.
Equality Utah sent a message to supporters, stating, “Thanks to all of our fair minded candidates that went through our endorsement process and worked so hard on their campaigns through the general election. Thanks to all the volunteers who turned out to canvass and phone bank. Lastly, big congratulations to our fair minded candidates that made it through the general election.”
The Utah Democratic Party touted the election results as a victory. Because municipal elections are non-partisan, meaning party affiliation is not included on the ballot, this election shows that many Utah voters align with Democratic ideals, said Democratic Party Chairman Jim Dabakis.
“I think that we are beginning to see the inevitable shift in the tide.” Dabakis said in a press release. “The Tea Party has taken the Republican Party too far to the extreme-right and that’s not what the people of Utah want. Utahns are sick of a Republican Party that has become so ideologically small that it kicks out its own members if they don’t march perfectly to the Tea Party drum.”
The swing to left in the municipal elections bodes well for upcoming Congressional and state elections, he said.
“Utah Democrats in elected offices seem to be the only ones sticking up for voters, whether it be on redistricting or open and fair governmental practices, and I think that aggravation is starting to show through,” Dabakis said.
Although no major queer-related ballot initiatives were considered, there were some notable victories for gay candidates in other states. Houston Mayor Annise Parker was reelected with 51 percent, which is enough of a margin that she has avoided a run-off. Houston is the nation’s fourth largest city. Openly-gay candidate Alex Morse, 22, beat 67-year-old incumbent Mary Pluta in Holyoke, Massachusetts and will become the nation’s youngest mayor. Also, Daniel Hernandez, Jr., Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ openly gay intern, who is credited with saving her life, won his election to the Tucson school board.