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The City Journals

Sandy elections produce two nail-biters, a new female-dominated council

Nov 18, 2019 03:35PM ● By Justin Adams

The projected winners of Sandy's four city council races as of press deadline, from let to right: Monica Zoltanski (District 4), Alison Stroud (District 2), Marci Houseman (At-Large) and Cyndi Sharkey (At-Large).

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

They say every vote counts in an election, and nowhere is that more true than in local elections where candidates might be separated by only a handful of votes. That was the case for two out of the four city council races in Sandy this year. 

In District 2, initial election results showed local school teacher Alison Stroud leading the incumbent, Councilwoman Maren Barker, by just 17 votes. As more votes were counted in the following days, Stroud’s lead grew to 81 votes, a result so close that there may not be a concession until the results are officially verified by the lieutenant governor and accepted by the city on Nov. 19.  

Similarly in District 4, an initial gap of 19 votes was all that separated Monica Zoltanski and Brooke D’Sousa. As additional ballots were counted, Zoltanski took a 61-vote lead. 

The race for Sandy’s two other at-large city council seats wasn’t quite as close. A field of four candidates competed against one another, with the top two vote-getters being the winners. Residents were prompted to vote for two out of the four. 

Cyndi Sharkey, a member of the city’s planning commission, received the most votes with a total of 8,027 votes, followed by Marci Houseman with 7,313 votes. Jim Edwards and Dea Theodore finished with 6,473 and 5,362 votes, respectively. 

The day following the election, Theodore conceded defeat while giving a parting shot at other unspecified candidates in a Facebook post, saying, “The Salt Lake Board of Realtors dominated the election (so far). This was not too surprising. They have ‘bought’ their council seats in our city. There was a lot on the line for them in Sandy and their big donations proved it.”

Previously in this election cycle, the Sandy Journal reported that the Salt Lake Board of Realtors donated a total of $19,777 to five different candidates in the primaries, accounting for 34.6% of all campaign donations for the primary period within the city. 

As for election turnout, Sandy was right around the county-wide average of 33.34%. In the at-large race, 16,187 ballots were returned out of 51,686 registered voters for a turnout of 31.3%. District 2 had only a slightly better return, with 3,922 ballots cast out of 12,410 registered voters (31.6%). The only Sandy race which surpassed the county average was District 4, which saw 4,534 ballots returned out of 13,075 registered voters (34.6%).

If the current election results hold, Sandy residents would see a very different city council in the new year. 

Six out of the seven city council members would be in their first term, making for a very inexperienced legislative body. The only city council member with more than one term of experience would be Kris Coleman-Nicholl. 

And in what would may be a first for any city in Utah, the Sandy City Council would also be almost completely female, with first-term Councilman Zach Robinson being the only exception. Of the nearly 100 city council members in all the municipalities across the valley, nearly two-thirds are male.