The BEST restaurants, bars, entertainment, nightlife, dishes, drinks, media, and politics in Utah. 2022 | You Voted, We Listened | Best of Utah | Salt Lake City
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The BEST restaurants, bars, entertainment, nightlife, dishes, drinks, media, and politics in Utah. 

You Voted, We Listened

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The CityCast Salt Lake team (L-R): - Emily Means, Ali Vallarta, - Ivana Martinez and Terina Ria - COURTESY PHOTO
  • courtesy photo
  • The CityCast Salt Lake team (L-R): Emily Means, Ali Vallarta, Ivana Martinez and Terina Ria


Best Local Podcast
CityCast Salt Lake

Salt Lake City is popping, and increasingly drawing the attention of national brands and business ventures. That can result in some ham-fisted attempts to appear “local,” but the CityCast podcast network did it right in choosing bona fide Salt Lakers to run the show, who then leaned hard into hyperlocal programming. Each weekday morning, for about the time it takes to get from Sugar House to Downtown—or another, comparable in-city commute—the team at CityCast delivers an audio newsletter on Salt Lake City and the people, places and things that make it great. saltlake.citycast.fm
2. Brigham Young Money
3. Mormon Stories

Best Weathercaster
Allison Croghan, Fox 13 Studio

It’s hard to believe it already has been 10 years since Allison Croghan joined the Fox 13 Good Day Utah morning team. But thanks to her effervescent presence, it seems like she’s always been part of the Utah media landscape. Since moving on to the prime evening news spots for Fox 13 in 2020, she’s continued to lay out the forecasts with energy and professionalism. This honor isn’t even her biggest occasion of 2022, as she got married in September. Double congratulations!
facebook.com/AllisonCroghanTV
2. Kevin Eubank, KSL 5
3. Sterling Poulsen, KUTV 2

Best Sports Reporter
Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune

It was certainly an eventful summer to be a Utah Jazz beat writer, as the Tribune’s Andy Larsen was kept busy chronicling the team’s trades of starters Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic, in addition to the departure of head coach Quin Snyder. As an online presence, Larsen enjoys engaging readers with questions and answers—and keeps Jazz fans informed of everything that will be important during a transitional year, including the prospects of likely No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama.
alarsen@sltrib.com
2. Sarah Todd, Deseret News
3. Andrea Urban, Fox 13 Studio

Best TV Reporter
Ben Winslow, Fox 13

From Ben Winslow’s thorough and objective coverage of Utah’s Capitol Hill, politics, courts, polygamy and assorted vices to his play-by-play Twitter threads of government meetings, it’s no wonder Winslow’s fan base continues to grow. The man doesn’t half-ass anything. On top of delivering the news with in-depth analytical insights, his fashion game is always on point.
@BenWinslow, twitter.com/BenWinslow
2. Jeremy Harris, KUTV 2News
3. Kelly Vaughen, KUTV 2News

Best Nonprofit Organization
Best Friends Sanctuary

The research says people who love animals are better for it. But the people who save animals are the true heroes. And standing out among the champions is Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a “healing home” since 1984 for homeless animals. You can visit and help in a stunning southern Utah setting that’s the largest such sanctuary in the nation. Best Friends has an adoption center in Salt Lake City, too. So “Save them All,” as they say.
5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, 435-644-2001; 2005 S. 1100 East, SLC, 801-574-2454, bestfriends.org
2. Planned Parenthood of Utah
3. The Other Side Academy

Best TV News Station
Fox 13

Salt Lake’s local evening news market is notoriously competitive for a city—and state—of our size. And within that battle, Fox 13 is notable for drawing first blood at 9 p.m.—a full hour before the others—and for doubling the typical running time with a 60-minute newscast. But those programming moves would mean little if not for the stellar roster of reporters and anchors who greet Utah viewers every night. Hip and hard-hitting, entertaining and enlightening, the team at Fox 13 isn’t your father’s news, it’s yours. fox13now.com
2. KUTV Channel 2
3. KSL Channel 5

Best Political Controversy
Gerrymandered Redistricting

Utah lawmakers went out of their way to gerrymander the state last year, flatly rejecting the recommendations of a voter-approved redistricting commission and dialing the partisan shenanigans up to 11 with the state’s new slice-and-dice maps. Utah will now have to defend itself in court, thanks to litigation from the League of Women Voters and Mormon Women for Ethical Government, and while it’s undoubtedly an uphill battle, it’s a fighting chance that our elections may not be a foregone conclusion for the next decade.
2. @BasedMikeLee
3. Mike Lee’s Election Fraud Texts

Smart hopes her supporters will pledge to stand - with victims of sexual violence. - BILL MILES
  • Bill Miles
  • Smart hopes her supporters will pledge to stand with victims of sexual violence.
Best Utahn
Elizabeth Smart

It’s been 20 years since Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bed by a man with a knife. That the then-14-year-old survived a year of captivity and abuse and lived to tell her tale, that she healed and resumed her life, that she took to the national stage to stand with other sexual assault survivors and form the Elizabeth Smart Foundation is the unbelievably triumphant side of that tragedy. Today, Smart’s foundation has teamed up with the Malouf Foundation in Cache Valley, and together, they’re implementing programs such as Smart Defense (self-defense training for women and girls) and the We Believe You campaign to support victims of sexual violence. Her “Smart Talks” podcast is a place where victims can tell their stories and be heard. Turning tragedies into triumphs is what the best Utahns do, as Smart so capably demonstrates. elizabethsmartfoundation.org
2. Shireen Ghorbani, health care advocate
3. Pamela Atkinson, homeless advocate

Best Piece of Legislation
HB33: Great Salt Lake Instream Flow

For the bulk of Utah history, state law has treated any water that reaches the Great Salt Lake as wasted and penalized rights holders for not using every drop of their liquid allotment. But the so-called “Use It or Lose It” paradigm received a much-needed shift in 2022, when lawmakers near-unanimously created a pathway for the lake, itself, to possess a water right and for current rights holders to lease their unused water back to the state. Utah has a long way to go before declaring the lake “saved,” but HB33—and other major water bills this year—represents a meaningful first step.
2. HB175: Include Pets in Protective Orders
3. HB410: $40 Million for Great Salt Lake Restoration

Best Rally
Abortion Rights Rallies After Roe v. Wade Reversal

Were you there? While the Dobbs decision was expected, the reality of it came as a jolt. That was enough to bring thousands of people—men and women—to the Utah State Capitol to protest the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Ogden’s Municipal Building was flooded with protesters, as the country raised their voices and fists in anger and despair. “Abortion is Health Care.” The rallies were just the beginning. Check out Planned Parenthood of Utah for more action: plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-utah
2. Pro Life Utah
3. March for Our Lives

Best Radio Station
KRCL 90.9 FM

There’s an ineffable quality to KRCL that is best—but not wholly—expressed by the term “community radio.” Utah is blessed with many great radio stations that take care to inform, entertain and report on its people. But KRCL feels inextricably linked to the community, showcasing the local market’s most diverse range of musical and public affairs programming, in a way that both reflects Salt Lake City and nudges it along. krcl.org
2. X96
3. KUER 90.1

LKUTV 2
  • LKUTV 2

Best TV Anchor
Mary Nickles, KUTV 2

Mary Nickles is a ray of sunshine, even on SLC’s worst inversion days. Brightening the mornings of Utahns for over 30 years, Nickles’ reporting is always great TV, but she also seems to be truly nice. This isn’t to say she’s cloying or fluffy; she is real and can cast shade and concern as well as generate a chuckle when needed. During the early hours when the majority of us can barely form a sentence, Nickles’ kind disposition and fun banter with co-anchors makes KUTV 2News This Morning the best way to start a day. @KUTVMary, twitter.com/KUTVMary
2. Kerri Cronk, Fox 13
3. Emily Florez, ABC4 Utah

Best Advocate/Advocacy Organization
Planned Parenthood of Utah

For many Utahns, the fight for reproductive autonomy has never been more pressing than it is right now. At the front lines of that fight is Planned Parenthood, whose medical professionals work tirelessly to provide critical care under a relentless onslaught of political opposition and increasingly burdensome—and medically unnecessary—regulations. It will take years before the courts untangle the mess left by the overturning of Roe v. Wade but wherever the law takes us, expect Planned Parenthood to be there pushing for patients’ rights. 659 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-532-1586, plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-utah
2. Equality Utah
3. Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Best Elected Official
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall

It should be noted that “None” won this category by a landslide. However, coming in a strong second was Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who is quite literally a “breath of fresh air.” In the nearly three years since her election, the city’s third woman chief executive has planted 3,000 trees—pumping out a half-million pounds of oxygen every year. Besides air quality, Mendenhall’s top priorities are stabilizing rental rates, affordable housing, reducing crime and opposing the state’s co-opting of the inland port, which she calls a threat to public health and the city’s legal rights. Perhaps most important, the 42-year-old has struck a tone of calm resolve in the sometimes-frenetic city hall. slc.gov/mayor, @slcmayor
2. State Sen. Derek Kitchen
3. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox

Best Political Social-Media Influencer
Pat Bagley

Editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley has long demonstrated the superiority of the pen—and drawing pencil—over the sword with his work in The Salt Lake Tribune that so effectively reduces Utah politics and many of its ethically questionable practitioners to a punchline. But Bagley is just as insightful and provocative on his Twitter feed, where he suffers no fools and refuses to call a spade by any other name, finding the archive cartoons—his own and often those of peer cartoonists—that perfectly fit the current moment and lending the eyeballs of his discerning followers to worthwhile stories from diverse media outlets.
bagley@sltrib.com, @patbagley
2. Health care advocate Shireen Ghorbani
3. Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow

COURTESY SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
  • courtesy salt lake tribune

Best Newspaper Reporter
Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune

Like the Utah Jazz roster, it’s getting hard to find a Tribune writer who’s been around for a few seasons. But the revolving door on the house that Paul Huntsman built only makes the steady hand of a local news veteran like Robert Gehrke more critical. As the current patriarch of the Utah Capitol press corps, Gehrke’s insight into Beehive State politics is simply unparalleled. And with his quick wit and approachable writing style, Gehrke cuts through the posturing to give readers an insider’s peek at the smoke-filled rooms of Utah government.
gehrke@sltrib.com, @robertgehrke
2. Courtney Tanner, The Salt Lake Tribune
3. Benjamin Wood, Salt Lake City Weekly

Best FM Radio Show
Radio From Hell, X96

The trio of Kerry Jackson, Gina Barberi and Bill Allred remain a longtime linchpin of the rock powerhouse X96, which is, itself, fresh off a 30-year-anniversary. The group’s wit, chemistry, side players and recurring bits are keeping listeners coming back for more, be it through terrestrial means or on podcasts pulling the best segments from their daily show.
x96.com/radio-from-hell
2. KRCL 90.9’s RadioACTive with Lara Jones
3. KUER 90.1’s RadioWest with Doug Fabrizio

Worst Utahn
Sen. Mike Lee

If you haven’t heard, we’re blessed to have a “constitutional scholar” in the Senate. Says who? Well, wily Sen. Mike Lee himself. After facing an unexpectedly tough fight for reelection to a third term, Lee proved himself to be just another self-aggrandizing politician with the dubious reputation for voting “no.” After savaging the Green New Deal, he famously declared: “The solution to climate change ... is to fall in love, get married and have some kids.” Huh? The For the People Act to expand voter rights, “was written in Hell by the devil himself.” Compensating disabled 9/11 responders? Forget it. Paraphrasing Churchill: “An empty taxi pulled up to the Capitol—and Mike Lee got out.”
2. Rep. Burgess Owens
3. Sen. Mitt Romney

Best Community Event
Utah Pride Festival

It was a three-year wait to get the Utah Pride Festival back in its full, fabulous glory, but the wait was worth it. The 2022 parade was a joyous event for the local LGBTQ+ community and allies, and the festival grounds welcomed an estimated 60,000 visitors for music, food, drink and exhibitor booths. At a time of growing social and political attacks on the rights and identities of queer Americans, it’s special to gather as a community to celebrate an unapologetic presence. Utah Pride Center, 1380 S. Main, SLC, 801-539-8800, utahpridecenter.org
2. Downtown Farmers Market
3. Utah Arts Festival

Best Social Cause
Planned Parenthood of Utah

Do we have to say it? Planned Parenthood is about so much more than abortion. They stand for sexual and reproductive rights, equitable access to health care and the opportunity to choose your own path to a healthy and meaningful life. Lawmakers who demand defunding PP don’t understand that research and education are crucial to women’s health care, and that women and girls seek help because neither the state nor the schools provide it. 659 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-532-1586, plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-utah
2. Utah Pride Center
3. Black Lives Matter

staff_1.jpg
Utah Supreme Court Justice Jill Pohlman - UT.GOV
  • ut.gov
  • Utah Supreme Court Justice Jill Pohlman

Best Glass-Ceiling Breakage
Jill Pohlman’s Appointment to the Utah Supreme Court

Oyez! Oyez! Move Over, Brethren! There’s a new lineup on the five-member Utah Supreme Court. With the state Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Court of Appeals Judge Jill Pohlman, women will outnumber men for the first time. Pohlman was appointed by Gov. Spencer Cox to replace retiring Justice Thomas Lee (older brother of “Senator Mike”). She’s just the fifth woman to sit on the high court since Utah statehood. Pohlman’s arrival comes when the court is poised to hear high-profile cases on abortion, transgender rights and voter redistricting.

Best Train Station
600 South Trax

Setting aside the lovely albeit isolated S-Line Streetcar, Salt Lake City’s Trax lines haven’t really changed since the 2002 Olympics. The dormant network got a much-needed boost this year with a new train stop on south Main Street, making it that much easier for more people to take transit to more places. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait until 2042 for the next one. rideuta.com

Best City Street Makeover
900 South

You’ve probably heard about Brigham Young demanding city streets be wide enough to turn a team of oxen around. But have you heard the one about Salt Lake City cutting a street in half to make it better for people? The ongoing construction on 900 South is certainly no picnic—hat tip to patient Central 9th businesses—but it’s high time Utah trimmed the fat on its overbuilt streets and with each new piece of the 9-Line trail (plus like-minded projects on 200 South and 300 West), Salt Lake City is showing how it can be done.

Best Way to Scandalize Mike Lee
Air a Gay TV Show

Sen. Mike Lee was bumfuzzled when he heard about a new TV series with the innocuous title of Tom Swift. The show—which The CW Network has canceled for lack of viewership—is about a good-looking Black billionaire inventor who’s gay and proud of it. The concept so offended the senator that he and four Republican colleagues dashed off a letter to the Orwellian-sounding TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board questioning “the motivations of hypersexualized entertainment producers [which are] suspect at best and predatory at worst.” LGBTQ+ characters on TV don’t turn viewers gay any more than straight characters turn gay viewers straight. It’s all nonsense, of course, but anything to appeal to the base, right?

Best Bridge Builders
Archie and Lois Archuleta

Lois Archuleta and her late husband, Robert “Archie” Archuleta, are pillars in the community, known for their long years of advocacy around civil rights, education, homelessness and so many other important causes. That legacy was appropriately solemnized this year with the naming of the Archuleta Bridge, which spans a gap in the Jordan River Parkway between 200 South and North Temple. The bridge was the final piece of the 40-mile-long Jordan River Trail, connecting all of Salt Lake County’s west-side communities. It will be bringing Utahns together—much like the Archuletas did—for many years to come.

Worst Political Hack
Attorney General Sean Reyes

An all-too-familiar odor is arising from Room 230 at the Capitol. That’s the office of the Utah Attorney General, where Sean Reyes seems hell-bent on pursuing egregiously embarrassing behavior. Elections aren’t his bailiwick, but he loves to travel to other states to perpetuate the Big Lie. When Donald Trump appeared at a rally in Wyoming, he paid homage to the twice-impeached former president, warning “the federal government is coming for your lands” and that educators are poisoning kids’ minds. He’s joined in several frivolous lawsuits challenging the long-ago-decided 2020 election. An AG is supposed to be the “people’s mouthpiece,” Sean ... not a Trump mouthpiece.

Best NIMBYs
Avenues Bus Opponents

Don’t threaten The Avenues with a good time. A vocal minority of the vaunted downtown-adjacent neighborhood have dug in for battle over new trails, new housing and now, a new high-frequency bus route. They say it’s about “safety” but it’s not worth explaining why they’re wrong, as it’s all window dressing around their real complaint—put simply, “change is bad.” Must be nice to have everything just the way you like it, right? If only the rest of us could ignore them, except we have to go through The Avenues to get to our amazing cityside mountain range and some people—even some Avenues residents!—actually rely on buses to get around.

Best ‘Please Just Go Away’
BYU Jettisoning LGBTQ+ Resources From Welcome Bags

So, what does the Office of Belonging at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University really oversee? The question was raised this fall when six-page pamphlets detailing LGBTQ+ resources in Provo were pulled from gift bags of freebies given to 5,000 incoming freshmen. The Raynbow Collective, a nonprofit off-campus consortium to assist queer students, paid the Y’s student newspaper $200 to include the booklets in the welcome bags. A university spokesperson says the school wants to instead “provide support through the Office of Belonging and our counseling services ... BYU’s focus is on creating unity and belonging ...’’ In an apparent “no-harm, no-foul” move, the administration-overseen newspaper—The Daily Universe—refunded the nonprofit its $200.

Best Excuse to Stop Driving
Free Fare February

Utah’s air is legendarily bad, and our cars aren’t helping. But lo and behold, when the city teamed up with UTA to offer free fares systemwide ... people rode transit! State leaders on Capitol Hill were quick to tamp down the enthusiasm, lest we get too used to a good thing, but there are reasons to believe the free-fare bell can’t be unrung. Gov. Cox Likes it as an economic relief tool. SLC schoolchildren are now Free Fare Forever. It also costs the state the equivalent of pocket change.

Best Local Lifestyle Show
Good Things Utah

For those still working from home, it’s a soothing balm to let the morning news shows morph into local lifestyle shows, especially in the aftermath of COVID. Good Things Utah, which airs on ABC4 on weekdays from 9 to 10 a.m., seems the perfect place to land. Cheerfully hosted by Nicea DeGering, Surae Chinn, Janeen Golightly, Deena Manzanares and Brianne Johnson, GTU exudes a vibe of normalcy in this crazy mixed-up world. Here you’ll garner home and beauty tips, snag a recipe for dinner, hear from health-care professionals about erectile dysfunction and learn about local trends and community events. They buoy us up when all around us is a hot mess. abc4.com/gtu

DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Best Faux Outrage
Jason Chaffetz Spouting the MAGA Line

Say what you want about former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the now-Fox-News pundit has pretty good instincts. Back in 2017, Chaffetz was chairman of the House Oversight Committee looking into Hillary Clinton’s lapses in handling State Department emails. And when photos surfaced of President Donald Trump holding an informal “briefing” for Mar-a-Lago guests (including the Japanese prime minister) on the resort patio, Chaffetz fired off a letter to the White House, asking it to clarify administration security protocols. Nothing much came of the inquiry, but it was an eerie prequel to the pandemonium after the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida citadel. Today, Chaffetz is back toeing the MAGA line, calling the raid “absolutely unprecedented ... They didn’t have a single thing on [Trump], and they tried every trick in the book.”

Best Knock ‘Em Dead DJ
Helmut von Schmidt, KBER

For a profession in which tenures can last months, rather than years, the self-dubbed “media darling and national treasure” known as Helmut von Schmidt is a true legend. He’s been at KBER since 1992 and rules the roost on the rock station during the evening hours, featuring a regular rotation of the station’s tracks, as well as his own specialty programming. 101 FM, Kber.com

Best at Putting Voters First
Utah’s Redistricting Lawsuit Moves Forward

Some four years ago, Utahns voted to place congressional maps in the hands of an independent redistricting commission. “Not so fast!” responded GOP legislators, who rewrote the proposal and cast the commission in only an advisory role. Thus, the current map is gerrymandered—drawn in a way that divides Salt Lake County (a Democratic stronghold) among the state’s four congressional districts. Two voter-advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the state in 3rd District Court. In August, Judge Dianna Gibson ruled that it should move forward now—rather than wait until a similar suit in North Carolina is resolved. What’s the old saying? “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Best Step Backward
Lawmakers Trying to Overturn the Ban on Conversion Therapy

When Associate Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that SCOTUS “reconsider” certain constitutional rights, state Rep. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, must have been listening. The Utah County Republican wants the Legislature to revisit a state regulation prohibiting therapists from using conversion therapy—electroshocks and the like—on minors to reverse same-sex attraction. Brammer believes former Gov. Gary Herbert overstepped his authority in 2020 by pushing an administrative rule banning the widely discredited zap-away-the-gay practice. Brammer and other GOP lawmakers are singing the old “Leave It Up to Us” refrain. Gov. Spencer Cox, who supported the ban when he was Herbert’s lieutenant governor, is “monitoring” the hot-button issue.

DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

Best Accessible Food
The Free Community Fridges by Salt Lake Mutual Aid

As inflation and the cost of living rise in SLC, Salt Lake Mutual Aid is fighting back against food insecurity with its free community fridges—anyone is free to drop off or take perishable and shelf-stable foods. The “freedges” are located in Rose Park, Sugar House and South Salt Lake. Rose Park: 1151 N. 1500 West, SLC; Sugar House: 720 E. Loveland Ave., SLC; Green Urban Lunch Box, 3188 S. 1100 West, South Salt Lake; instagram.com/slc.community.fridges

Best Tough Talk
Rep. Karianne Lisonbee

The U.S. Supreme Court overturning the decadeslong right to an elective abortion was made all the more jarring by so-called “trigger laws” that criminalized the procedure overnight. In Utah, the courts are still untangling the mess left by SCOTUS. Meanwhile, anti-choice lawmakers, who show a minimal grasp of the nuances of abortion, continue to muddy the waters. Clearfield Republican Karianne Lisonbee—who has sponsored her share of anti-abortion bills over the years—had a helpful suggestion for women: “I do trust women enough to control when they allow a man to ejaculate inside of them and to control that intake of semen,” she told reporters. Why yes, with that level of control, who would ever need an abortion?

Best Kicking Against the Pricks
(tie) Romney’s Support of Gun Reform/ House Delegation’s Vote for Marriage Equality

Call it bipartisanship; call it pragmatism; call it the bare minimum of small-d democratic representation; call it whatever you want but give a nod to five-sixths of Utah’s federal delegation for doing what the public wanted, even if their party stalwarts didn’t. Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote for the most significant federal gun legislation in decades helped break through the Senate’s omnipresent Republican filibuster, while all four of Utah’s GOP congressmen said “aye” to codifying marriage equality after the U.S. Supreme Court showed that no right can be taken for granted any more. Utah’s other senator was reportedly too busy being “Based” on Twitter to represent his constituents.

Best Sidewalk-Superintendent Hangout
Temple Square Renovations

Has the LDS Church borrowed a page from the Episcopal playbook? God forbid. But when it comes to the current Temple Square renovation project, it seems that way. You see, NYC’s St. John the Divine is nicknamed “St. John the Unfinished.” Begun 133 years ago, it’s still only two-thirds complete. The Temple Square project began in January 2020 with a four-year completion date. Now it’s been moved to 2025. Crews dug beneath the six-spire granite temple—the faith’s largest—as part of a seismic retrofit. (A 5.7 quake in 2020 ignominiously sent Angel Moroni’s trumpet tumbling.) Meanwhile, the interior is being revamped and the surrounding 35 acres are a beehive of hard-hat activity. Like everything related to finances, the church is mum about the project price tag.

Best Made-Up Controversy
Transgender Athlete Ban

There are few clearer examples of pointless red-meat politics than Utah’s transgender athletics ban, which started out as a snipe hunt and resulted in a law so sloppily thrown together that no one was surprised when a judge hit the brakes on its implementation. No really, they built a backup plan into the law! But the delegates ate it up, so Republican politicians are patting themselves on the back—while standing on the necks of Utah’s transgender community—despite having achieved less than nothing.

Best Use of the Utah Constitution to Justify Bigotry
Utah County Clerk Candidate Jake Oaks

Just when you think something’s settled, someone comes along to spoil the illusion. Case-in-point: SCOTUS Justice Alito and pals who overturned Roe v. Wade. And Jake Oaks. Jake who? The Utah County man ran for county clerk this year on the American Independent Party ticket, garnering 20% of the vote. He vowed, if elected, not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. His reasoning: Marriage isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, and the state’s so-called Amendment 3 prohibiting such unions (but struck down by the courts) still is on the books. But a number of basic rights aren’t enshrined, either, like the right to vote, to travel and to privacy. It all is academic, because Oaks’ sole opponent, Aaron Davidson, was a Republican, and as we’re all aware, Utah County is more crimson than the College of Cardinals. Davidson easily defeated Oaks.

Best Reality Check
Utah Democrats Shelving Their Senate Candidate

Defeat is hard to accept, but things can be even worse if you don’t. If Sen. Mike Lee were a traditional, reasonable Republican—like the broadly respected man he replaced—then there’d be little harm in Utah’s minority party offering up its ritual sacrifice to influence the election debate. Instead, Lee is a unique, demonstrable threat to the health of American democracy, and the decision of the Utah Democratic Party to forgo a Senate nominee and join the coalition backing independent Evan McMullin reflected the seriousness of Lee’s candidacy. Still, Lee was reelected on Nov. 8, this time with only 55% of the vote compared to the 68% he mustered in 2016. And, at least Utah Democrats gave democracy a fighting chance.

Worst Criminal Balance Sheet
Utah State Prison’s Cost Overrun

“I’m just amazed at where we’re at,” said a beaming Gov. Spencer Cox at the June ribbon-cutting for the new Utah State Prison, five miles west of Salt Lake City International Airport. Obviously, he wasn’t looking at the final financial spreadsheets. Six years ago, taxpayers were told they’d have to shell out $550 million. They ended up with a $1.05 billion (with a “B”) bill. No matter, said the governor. “We’re actually less in debt than expected ... We were able to pay cash for much of the prison.” Money’s still money, your Excellency, which ultimately comes from the pocketbooks and purses of your average Utah taxpayer. The old 600-acre prison site in Draper will become a mixed-use office-commercial-residential mecca known as “The Point.”



Editor's Note: Over 160,000 votes were cast in the 2022 City Weekly Best of Utah poll. The ballot software used was from Revfluent, Inc. which provided City Weekly a list of "estimated winners." That list was tallied and vetted by City Weekly editorial staffers per our historic rules and published guidelines that are intended to monitor ballot malfeasance. The official City Weekly Best of Utah 2022 results were printed in Salt Lake City Weekly on Nov. 17, 2022 and are republished here online.


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