Jenny Wilson elected Salt Lake County mayor

Posted at 2:08 PM, Jan 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-26 22:28:13-05

DRAPER, Utah -- Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson has been elected Salt Lake County Mayor.

Wilson was elected mayor after two rounds of balloting at the special election put on by the Salt Lake County Democratic Party. In the second round, she captured 398 votes to Shireen Ghorbani's 321.

Jenny Wilson speaks to the crowd at the Salt Lake County Democratic Party's Central Committee meeting. (Image by Todd Gilbert, FOX 13 News)

"I'm ready to go," Mayor-elect Wilson told reporters after her win. "This has been a great journey."

The race replaces Ben McAdams, who resigned after he was elected to Congress representing Utah's 4th Congressional District. Under the law, committee members of the Salt Lake County Democratic Party got to pick his replacement. There are more than 1,100 committee members, but only 761 credentialed showed up to vote on Saturday.

"I'm happy to see some great candidates throw their name in there to represent the people of Salt Lake County," Rep. McAdams told reporters.

In speeches ahead of the voting, Salt Lake County Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw touted his plans for criminal justice reform, air quality, housing and open space issues.

Stone Fonua described himself as an "outlier." The former Republican candidate has used the race to try to advance his views on political issues.

"This is between you and me," Shireen Ghorbani told committee members as she stood on stage alone and touted her platforms. Ghorbani said she took no endorsements in the race but spoke about knocking on 90,000 doors and her engagement in the race.

In contrast, Wilson appeared on stage with a huge group of supporters. She had previously run for U.S. Senate against Mitt Romney.

"We need someone who is in the driver's seat on policy and someone who has been there," she said. "I know how to implement it. I know how to deliver."

A Salt Lake County Democratic Party Central Committee member casts a ballot in the special election for county mayor. (Image by Todd Gilbert, FOX 13 News)

In the first round of balloting, Bradshaw and Fonua were eliminated (Fonua got zero votes). That left Wilson and Ghorbani facing off in the second round.

Ghorbani, who ran for Utah's 2nd Congressional District, delivered a passionate speech with supporters chanting "Team Shireen." Wilson appeared on stage with Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera as she touted her experience as a county councilwoman.

"We have to spend our political capital wisely," she said. "We've got a lot of political capital this year."

After Wilson was declared the winner, she and Ghorbani embraced.

"I do believe she's going to fight for us, and I'm grateful for that," Ghorbani told reporters afterward. "I want to make sure we continue to see this seat held by a Democrat. I'll get out there and work for her."

Ghorbani told FOX 13 she was not interested in seeking Wilson's now vacant seat on the county council.

Shireen Ghorbani embraces her opponent, Jenny Wilson, after the special election for Salt Lake County Mayor. (Image by Todd Gilbert, FOX 13 News)

"Maybe I'll just be a public Democrat out there fighting for the issues I care about," she said.

Mayor-elect Wilson will be sworn into office on Tuesday and will also have to run for the seat in 2020 (in a general election). She said she planned to be on Utah's Capitol Hill advocating for Prop. 3, the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative.

"I believe strongly we have to preserve Medicaid," she said. "That was something the voters especially in this county wanted."