Across Cache County, local councils see election shakeups
Come January, new faces will be joining municipal councils across Cache County.
While some of the changes were anticipated— Hyde Park and Providence had no incumbents on their ballots — some of the other councils had the potential of retaining all their current elected officials. In the eight municipalities where elections were held this year, new members were added to every council.
Across these communities— Smithfield, Hyde Park, North Logan, Logan, River Heights, Providence, Nibley, and Hyrum— 25 total seats were voted on yesterday. Fourteen incumbents ran and 10 were reelected.
In five of the eight races, the candidate who received the most votes was not an incumbent. In half of the races, one or more incumbents lost.
In Nibley, five candidates ran for three open seats, including the three candidates currently holding the seats. Only one of the incumbents was reelected, which Mayor Shawn Dustin said he wouldn’t read too much into.
“I haven’t looked too closely at the numbers, but my preliminary impression is that turnout was low valley-wide,” Dustin said. “When that happens, it doesn’t take a whole lot to swing an election.”
Dustin also said it was interesting to contrast this turnover with the fact that many municipalities canceled their elections because so few people filed to run. Because of this, he said his general impression is people in the county are satisfied with their city government.
“That suppresses turnout, unfortunately,” Dustin said. “I would like to see more participation in elections in general. Not because I wish for a different outcome, but just because I think that it (voting) is not just a right, it’s a privilege.”
Cameron Diehl of the Utah League of Cities and Towns said this type of turnover is less common in nonpartisan races, but that in other parts of the state higher turnover has occurred in areas where a lot of growth is happening and residents are concerned about the direction it is going. Oftentimes, this is fueled by grassroots efforts supporting or opposing particular candidates, he said.
Although this could be the reason why changes happened in specific communities, it doesn’t seem to explain what happened in the county elections as a whole this year.
“Every election, it really is so local,” Diehl said.
Without knowing all the details of local issues and people involved in the local elections, Diehl said it would be impossible for him to say why things turned out the way they did in the county, but that the growth-related questions communities are facing likely played a part.
Of all the councils in the county, Providence saw the biggest turnover this year since none of its incumbents filed to run. Mayor John Drew said he doesn’t know if there is a specific overarching reason for this, but that one council member said he was disappointed and disgusted with the us-versus-them mentality residents had regarding zoning issues.
Council Member Roy Sneddon said at age 84, he decided not to run because he didn’t want to die in office. Brent Fresz said he took a new position at work that would complicate service.
Kirk Allen said he didn’t run for re-election because he was tired of the way he and other council members were being treated by the community.
“We all just kind of said, ‘Well, let somebody else try it next year,’” Allen said.
The Herald Journal was unable to reach Providence City Council Member Dennis Giles.
After Providence, Hyde Park saw the next biggest shift on their council with all three open seats being filled by new council members. Although two of the three incumbents tried to get onto the city’s fall ballot during the spring nominating convention, they were unsuccessful.
The convention drew record attendance, according to city officials, and was held a few months after an incident earlier in the year when two employees quit after the public works director, who the employees say pointed a gun at them during a meeting, returned to work after a six-day suspension.