Skip to main content

The City Journals

Six women to serve on SSL City Council

Nov 29, 2021 02:41PM ● By Bill Hardesty

SSL City Council will have six women serving the council. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

On Nov. 16, South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood and the South Salt Lake City Council acting as the Board of Canvassers, met to accept and approve the 2021 Municipal General Election results.

Only 29.75% of eligible voters casted a ballot. This means that less than a third of eligible voters determined the future direction of the city.

Mayoral results

Mayor Wood won her fourth term as mayor. She gathered 1,777 votes (58.2%). A newcomer to city politics, Jake Christensen, collected 678 votes (22.2%), and Council Member Shane Siwik gathered 596 votes (19.5%).

This was the first time SSL used ranked choice voting. While some voiced concern about the process before the election, the system worked. Thereby avoiding the expense of holding a primary election.

Wood said of her win, “I ran for re-election on the continued commitment of building on the successes of the past 12 years. Investing in people, maintaining great neighborhoods and celebrating South Salt Lake resonates with voters. Residents like what they see and feel a part of our thriving community.”

Campaigning was a positive event for Wood. “The opportunity to meet residents on their front porch enriches me personally and professionally. To hear their ideas, concerns and needs is civic engagement at its finest.”

Wood said it is an honor to serve the residents and businesses of South Salt Lake.

While citing that “the city’s successes have been great,” Wood added, “there is much work to be done to keep our city on the move.”

The mayor says her “to-do list” for the next four years is based on her past 12 years.

“My first three terms focused on large projects, developments and initiatives,” Wood said. “We are a city of quality neighborhoods, each with its own character and needs. I am looking forward to focusing on creating neighborhood identities that preserve and enhance livability. We have set out to build a burgeoning downtown, support our small businesses and thriving Creative Industries Zone, celebrate our diversity at community centers and enliven our neighborhoods with active, inviting green spaces. Advancing all of these projects is on my to-do list for the next four years.”

Wood looked back and said, “Initially, when I took office as mayor, many lofty goals to move our city forward were established. Roots for our Promise SSL Initiative were planted, we set out to create Master Plans citywide, review and analyze our approach to safety, solidify our thriving Arts Council, and saw the S-Line streetcar to completion.” 

Wood also said, “My priorities over the next four years will continue much of this work. I will seek to enhance and grow outdoor spaces, support safe and enduring neighborhoods, increase transportation and mobility options and see continued progress in our downtown, along transit lines and in the Creative Industries Zone.”

Council member at-large

This race was close, but Clarrisa Williams was elected with 51.65% (1,490) of the vote. Olivia Spencer gathered 48.35% (1,395).

Williams is the first Navajo member of the city council. For the past 18 months, she has served as a member of the Planning Commission representing District 5.

On her website, Williams wrote, “I am Tábąąhá (Water’s Edge People), born for Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water People). My maternal Grandfathers are Naakai dine’é (The Mexican Clan), and my Paternal Grandfathers are M ‘íí deeshgíízhíníí (Coyote Pass – Jemez Clan).”

Williams was born and raised on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. She continues as a member of the Navajo Nation.

In 2003, Willams and her husband moved to Utah to finish their education. They planned to move back to the Navajo Nation, but instead, they stayed. In 2010, they bought their first home in SSL.

“South Salt Lake has moved from that ‘industrial’ city to becoming one of the best places to live,” Williams said. “South Salt Lake is the center of the Salt Lake Valley...more like the heart. The central location is ideal for families, young and old alike, to work and play.”

She campaigned on seven issues. Her position statements are available at www.clarissaforssl.com.  

District 2

Cory Thomas was successful in her re-election bid. She received 54.88% (236) of the vote compared to 45.12% (194) for Sam Garfield.

Thomas joined the council four years ago concerned about pedestrian safety and street lighting. While there have been some wins, Thomas wants to continue to work on these issues.

“I want to continue working on pedestrian safety. I also want to focus more on street lighting. I want to see accomplished in our city to fix, add, or improve the streetlights so that our residents, business owners, and anyone visiting will feel a little safer,” Thomas said.

She mentioned one of her key learnings these four years is that “I have learned that as a city we need to be smart about our yearly budget.”

Thomas also wants to thank “all those that voted for me, my fellow council members for their support and, of course, my family and friends for helping me.”

District 3

In the biggest win of the election, Sharla Bynum retained her city council seat with 68.18% (390) of the vote. Aileen Hampton won 31.82% (182) of the vote.

Bynum is heading into her third term representing District 3. For the past two years, she has served as chairperson on the council.

Looking back to her first election, Bynum mentioned that she was one of two females on the council. For the last two years, five women have been serving, and with the election of Willams, the council will have six women. 

“It’s truly exciting to be a part of history in the making,” Bynum said.

She continued, “Over the years, I’ve learned much from our staff of experts. It’s important that we seek input from all stakeholders when making decisions. Most issues are complex and require significant research to properly address.”

When she looks forward, Bynum said, “I would like to continue to lead the council in a collaborative manner addressing issues like crime prevention, water infrastructure and parking enforcement. Local politics are nonpartisan; our focus should be on solving problems that impact our community without divisiveness.”

Bynum expressed gratitude to the people who supported her re-election. However, “my family deserves extra recognition. They make all of my achievements possible.”