SANDY, Utah — As she waited for more election results to come in, Monica Zoltanski rode her horse in Dimple Dell Park.
"It’s been a huge push, a race to the finish line," she said in an interview with FOX 13 on Wednesday. "Definitely ran as an underdog, small amount of funding but a big effort from the people of Sandy to get me elected this campaign."
Zoltanski is the leader in the race for Sandy mayor, with 50.4% of the vote to Jim Bennett's 49.6%. They are the top two in the race of eight candidates in the ranked choice election.
"I'm on pins and needles. I want to know what the results are, I think ranked choice has extended this process to some degree," he told FOX 13 as he waited for results at his home. "I’m used to elections where you find out election results on election night, and that wasn’t what this election is. But I'm optimistic."
More election results are expected to be posted by the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office on Thursday, providing a clearer picture as to who the winner is. The Sandy City mayor's race was the largest ranked choice election of the 23 cities that experimented with it.
Across Utah, some races were still too close to call. Incumbent Cedar City Mayor Maile Wilson Edwards led her challenger, Garth Green, by only 16 votes in preliminary election results. In Midvale, Robert Hale led Marcus Stevenson by 44 votes. In Kamas, one of the city council races was tied.
Asked if they would support ranked choice in the future, neither Sandy mayoral candidate said they liked it.
"I didn’t think we had that very valuable vetting process that a primary provides, where you really distill the issues and the candidates go head to head," said Zoltanski, who added that she didn't feel it saved candidates money.
Bennett said he had to explain it to everyone he spoke with.
"Voters were confused by ranked choice voting," he said. "I don’t think if it was put to them as a referendum, that it would survive."
While ranked choice supporters believe the election has been successful, the state's top election officer said she would like to survey voters to determine whether it was a success or failure.
"I imagine that there potentially will be the option for municipalities to participate in this in the years to come," said Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson. "I’m not sure that we’re ready to expand it out to partisan races yet. But I haven’t seen any glaring problems that would lead me to believe that this program is going to go away."
Lt. Gov. Henderson said voter turnout was lower than previous municipal years, but she thanked election clerks who have worked tirelessly to show that elections are safe and fair.
"The disappointing thing for me is when people make efforts to undermine voter confidence with no evidence there actually is a problem," she said. "That’s the biggest concern for me."