2019 could be difficult for Mayor Jackie Biskupski. A new UtahPolicy.com survey finds 56% of Salt Lake City residents think Biskupski does not deserve another term in office.
The survey asked 203 likely voters in Utah’s capital city whether Biskupski should win another four-year term, or is it time to give someone new a chance. 56% said it was time to elect someone new, with 29% saying it was “definitely” time for a new face in City Hall, and 27% replying it was “probably” time for a new mayor. 34% said Biskupski deserves another term, while 9% said they didn’t know.
Biskupski has been the subject of much controversy since she took office following her defeat of former Mayor Ralph Becker in 2015. Shortly after assuming office she asked for the resignations of top city staffers and appointed employees. She also clashed with the Salt Lake City Council and Salt Lake County officials over the placement of new homeless resource centers. She also had a very public standoff with House Speaker Greg Hughes and state leaders over the closure of Rio Grande Street downtown as part of the plan to address the homeless issue.
Most recently, Biskupski brawled with the Legislature and Gov. Gary Herbert over the inland port in the Northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City. The legislature passed a bill in the final hours of the 2018 session usurping control of that area away from the city. Biskupski attempted to negotiate changes to the law, but those talks blew up in May after state leaders thought they had a deal in place. Following that, the Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to negotiate with the state to make changes to the inland port legislation, which culminated in a July special session. Biskupski refused to take part in those talks, despite repeated overtures from the involved parties.
Despite the majority of residents who don’t want Biskupski to serve another term, there are some nuggets of encouragement for her in the survey.
Salt Lake City is one of the few Democratic strongholds in the state. Democrats are divided over whether Biskupski should be re-elected, with 47% saying she should get another term, and 43% responding someone else should be mayor.
Republicans and unaffiliated voters are decidedly against Biskupski serving another term. 78% of Republicans in Salt Lake City say Biskupski should not get another four years. 61% of independent voters agree.
Biskupski, widely viewed as a progressive, does have support from self-described liberals, while moderates and conservatives are decidedly against her serving another term. However, that support from the political left is soft.
A plurality of those who say they are “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal” believe Biskupski should get another term. 46% of “very liberal” and 49% of “somewhat liberal” SLC voters say she should get another term.
66% of moderate Salt Lake City voters say someone else should have a chance to serve as mayor.
76% of “somewhat conservative” and 79% of “very conservative” voters in Salt Lake City say Biskupski’s first term in office should be her last.
Biskupski does have good support for another term from younger voters, with 67% of those between the age of 18 and 24 believing she should get a second term. However, those numbers turn against her in the older age cohorts.
Men and women voters are decidedly against Biskupski serving another term. 61% of men and 51% of women voters say someone else should get a chance to serve that office.
While these numbers seem to suggest Biskupski could be in trouble in 2019, Salt Lake City’s non-partisan, top-two primary election gives her a good chance move to the general election and win another term. There are several people said to be mulling a challenge to Biskupski next year including retiring State Sen. Jim Dabakis, entrepreneur David Ibarra, and Salt Lake City Council members Stan Penfold and Charlie Luke. Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jenny Wilson and State Senator Luz Escamilla are also rumored to be considering the race. If 4 or 5 candidates jump into the fray, Biskupski would only need about 30% support to advance to the general election. These poll results suggest that level of support for her already exists.
The Dan Jones & Associates survey was conducted August 22 – September 12, 2018, among 203 likely voters in Salt Lake City with a 6.8% margin of error.