Choices, choices. The political field in Salt Lake City’s District 4 would hardly be this densely populated if Nancy Saxton had never dreamed the mayoral dream. But then her fat chance in hell began looking a lot less desirable than another tough incumbent race.
A 4-to-1 field in her council race is still a better bet for the incumbent than the dismal start she had in the mayoral race. In an April Dan Jones poll, Saxton had only a 5 percent approval rating compared to front-runner Jenny Wilson’s 20 percent.
Two of her council opponents, she admits, were none too happy about her bounce back, but she let them know she hadn’t intended to be so squirrelly. Saxton and her husband sold their businesses after 20 years, the last few of which were fraught with financial problems. After jumping into the mayor’s race, Saxton changed her life’s focus to hiking, backpacking and washing her hair, she says. Oh, yeah, and then running for City Council.
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“This is an important district in the city,’ says Saxton. “Every time I’ve run, I’ve had four or five people run against me, and one or two real serious candidates. I’m actually really honored.”
Her opponents are Luke Garrott, a political science instructor at the University of Utah; Brian Doughty a 36-year-old equipment salesman; Carol Goode, an employee of the Department of Workforce Services; and Jack Gray, who did not return phone calls but whose Website lists the American National Socialist Workers Party in Virginia as his media contact.
Garrott, who jumped into the race last fall, has raised more than $12,000 and says his goal is $20,000. Saxton has raised less than $4,000. It must frustrate her to no end that she could only donate $1,500 of the $54,389 she raised for her defunct mayoral campaign. Garrott calls himself a “neighborhood-improvement guy” and says he believes strongly in participating in the creation of your own community. That means he wants to focus on process and meaningful citizen participation. He has been on the board of the Central City Community Council, wants walkable neighborhoods, “big, fat bike lanes,” and better balance between high-density and single-residential neighborhoods.
Doughty is interested in environmental issues and says that, as a gay man, he offers the city an overall progressive package. Water conservation and reducing the carbon imprint are priorities. He’d also like to see more funds flow to Pioneer Park. Endorsed by Sen. Scott McCoy, Doughty has raised about $5,000.
Goode, a master’s candidate in public administration, is trying a second time for council and has her eyes on the mayor’s seat “someday.” A non-LDS African American, she says she brings diversity to the race and is focused on affordable housing and issues of historical preservation in an urban setting. Fund-raising is tough, and she’s recycling her signs from her 2003 primary.
Meanwhile, Saxton is keeping up with her “neighborhood mayor” slogan, saying they’ve been getting short shrift over the last eight years. Businesses, she says, have been getting all the money while neighborhoods suffer. “Businesses are here to serve us; we’re not here to serve businesses,” she says, thumbing her nose at potential campaign donors.
Saxton won her 2003 general election with 54 percent of the vote but only squeaked through the primary at 51 percent. That’s what she won her first general election by, too. cw