Moab City mayoral candidates Emily Niehaus and David Olsen will face each other in the Nov. 7 general election, as two other contenders were eliminated from the race in the mail-in municipal primary election held Tuesday, Aug. 15.
According to Grand County’s unofficial election results, posted shortly after the polls closed Tuesday night, Niehaus garnered a total of 674 votes, or 45.2 percent, while Olsen placed second with 424 votes, or 28.5 percent.
Candidates Norm Knapp and Gerald Roy Reed were eliminated from contention in the bid to replace incumbent Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison, who did not seek re-election for a fifth four-year term. Knapp collected 361 votes, or 24.2 percent, and Reed had 30 votes, or 2 percent.
The final vote canvass will be conducted next week, on Aug. 22, according to Grand County Clerk Diana Carroll, who added that the final canvass would include 10 additional provisional ballots and an unknown but probably small number of absentee ballots or others that may have been delayed in the mail.
“We had a 59 percent turnout, which is good for a city primary,” Carroll said, adding that 1,492 ballots were returned out of 2,519 mailed out for the mayoral primary.
“I’m so grateful to the voters who supported me in this primary,” Niehaus said Tuesday evening after the results were posted online. “I am excited to get to know more about Moab’s voters and learn more about their concerns, their solutions and their vision for Moab.”
Olsen, who was present at the county clerk’s office Tuesday evening when the final ballots were counted and the results announced, also took the opportunity to thank the voters for their support.
“I thank the voters for letting me go to the general election,” Olsen said, adding, “I should pick up some of the split votes and gain momentum. I’m in a good place.”
Both Niehaus and Olsen said they are looking forward to running against each other in November’s final election.
“I’m really happy to run alongside David,” Niehaus said.
“Emily came out of the gate fast,” said Olsen, who added a hopeful note, “I’ll catch up.”
Despite his third-place finish, Knapp said he would continue to work to make a difference in the community.
“I want to thank all the amazing people that have supported me and my platform of bringing business sense, accountability and team building together for our city’s future,” Knapp said. “Last night didn’t turn out the way we wanted of course and I will not be serving as your mayor, but I am committed to making a difference for our community and I hope that many of you will join me as we work to prove that a diverse community can work together and successfully navigate the opportunities and challenges we face.”
Reed, who finished in fourth place, expressed his desire to stay involved in local politics.
“Regardless of the results, I learned a few things from this,” Reed said. “And honestly, this is the beginning, not the end. The biggest things that affected the outcome of the election is that I haven’t been as public a figure as the others, for as long as the others have been, and it showed in the results. Moab will learn that the best options are typically the ones not well known at first, and it will take a while to show and convince them of that. I’m really not in it for the prestige, or profit of any kind. This wasn’t about me, and this isn’t the last time I’ll try to make a difference. I’m nothing if not persistent.”
Also on Tuesday’s county-wide ballot was a primary election to narrow the field of Republican candidates vying for the U.S. House of Representatives District 3 seat vacated earlier this year by Jason Chaffetz, who resigned June 30, a few months into his fifth Congressional term. Chaffetz now works as a political commentator for Fox News.
With 42.1 percent of the district-wide vote, Provo Mayor John Curtis emerged as the winner of the GOP primary for the race. Curtis will advance to the November general election, facing Democrat Kathryn Allen, along with the United Utah Party’s Jim Bennett and several other third-party candidates.
Among Grand County’s registered Republican voters, however, Curtis finished a distant third place on Tuesday, winning 192 votes or 22.2 percent. Winning Grand County’s vote was former state representative Christopher Herrod, who tallied 343 votes, or 39.7 percent, while political newcomer Tanner Ainge was a close second in Grand County with 329 votes, or 38.1 percent.
Utah’s 3rd Congressional District includes portions of Salt Lake, Utah, and Wasatch counties, plus all of Carbon, Emery, Grand, and San Juan counties.
In the GOP primary, Grand County had a 54.2 percent turnout, with 889 ballots cast out of a total of 1,639 mailed out, according to the county clerk’s office.
A total of 1,897 ballot cards had been returned as of Tuesday night, election officials said.