Voters have chosen to leave the existing city council in place, electing all three incumbent candidates back for another four-year term in office.
Rani Derasary, Tawny Knuteson-Boyd and Kalen Jones ran against challengers Ken Minor, M. Bryon Walston and Kendall Jenson for three at-large seats on the council.
Derasary was the night’s top vote-getter, as preliminary vote counts were released by the Grand County Clerk/Auditor’s office. Derasary received 922 votes.
“Like elected officials in so many parts of Utah and the nation, the challenges we're facing are large; what encourages me moving forward is the engagement of our residents, the professional skills of city staff, and the work ethic of my council colleagues,” Derasary said in a statement to the Moab Sun News.
Knuteson-Boyd credited all the candidates for running “a clean, ethical race.”
“It’s tough to put yourself in the spotlight,” she said, expressing her hope that the challengers would stay involved with the civic issues discussed during the race.
Knuteson-Boyd took home 913 votes, with remaining incumbent candidate Jones receiving 900 votes.
Minor came close to toppling one of the incumbent candidates, trailing Jones by less than 50 votes despite running a largely self-funded campaign.
“We still need and are lacking a balance in the city council,” said challenger Walston in a statement. Walston, who received 783 votes, took in a reported $9,739.75 in donations during the primary and general election campaigns, more than double the next-highest campaign.
Walston was followed in the polls by Jenson, who received 752 votes. Jenson, Walston and Minor all received donations from the Utah Central Association of Realtors, which was commented on by some election observers.
In a widely-shared public Facebook post, local resident Bruce Hucko directed Moab voters to consider the financial disclosures in their decision-making process, decrying donations from what he called “businesses which have a financial interest in seeing very few restrictions on industrial tourism in Moab.”
The Grand County Republican Party supported the three challengers, expressing hope on their Facebook page that the candidates would “get some conservative ideas back in City government.”
The Grand County Democratic Party endorsed the three incumbents, and party chairperson Kevin Walker released a statement Wednesday morning saying he saw a message from voters in the election results.
“I think the election was a referendum on smarter and stricter regulation of hotels,” Walker said, “and the smart-growth candidates won decisively.”
Moab city elections are nonpartisan and candidates run their own campaigns.
The election results are considered preliminary until the city council officially canvasses the vote within a few weeks of the election.