City voters re-elect incumbents to council

From left, Rani Derasary, Tawny Knuteson-Boyd and Kalen Jones

Of the 2,571 registered voters in Moab, 69 percent cast ballots in Tuesday’s election Nov. 5, re-electing each of the incumbents to the city council through the end of 2023.

The incumbents received a majority of votes cast, as ballots allowed up to three candidates to be selected. Rani Derasary, received votes on 922 ballots, or 52 percent; Tawny Knuteson-Boyd received votes on 913 ballots, or 51.5 percent; Kalen Jones’s 900 votes accounted for 50.8 percent of ballots.

A gap of almost 3 percent of ballots cast differentiated the winner with the least votes and the loser with the most votes – Kenneth G. Minor – whose 853 votes accounted for 48.1 percent of ballots cast. M. Bryon Walston received 783 votes, accounting for 44.2 percent of ballots, and Kendall Jenson received 752 votes, or 42.4 percent of ballots.

Referendum on growth strategy?

On the morning after the election, Kevin Walker, a member of the Grand County Planning Commission, said he thought the election results indicated Moab voters’ preference for “smart growth” in an election he called a “referendum on smarter and stricter regulation of hotels,” and related topics.

“Walston and Jenson were the two candidates most closely associated with minimally regulated growth,” Walker said, “and they came in a distant fifth and sixth place.” Walker added that he thought “the smart growth candidates won decisively.”

More money, more problems

Lining the candidates up by self-reported campaign contributions shows that, on its own, campaign funding did not determine the outcome of the 2019 Moab City Council election, as there was no clear correlation between the two.

As a primary example, Walston raised the most money of all the candidates with $9,700, more than double the next person behind him–Derasary–yet placed fifth overall in the final results. Walston’s fundraising was primarily propped up by his own contributions to his campaign, with $4,000 coming out of his own pocket.

Knuteson-Boyd raised the least in campaign contributions, with $2,100 from both the primary and general elections. Derasary raised $4,600 in campaign donations; Minor, Jones and Jenson each raised between $2,500 and $3,700.