Salt Lake City voters give Mendenhall higher marks than Escamilla on leadership, ability to get things done

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Salt Lake City mayoral candidate Erin Mendenhall’s campaign themes are apparently getting through to some voters, a new Analytics poll shows.

Mendenhall, a city council member, is leading state Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake, by 10 points in a recent voter survey, Y2 reports. (This lead is when you push respondents to make a decision in the race, which will be decided in the Nov. 5 final election.)

Asked a number of traits desirable in any candidate for an executive office, a plurality or majority of voters say both women exhibit those traits.

But on several of the questions, Mendenhall clearly does better than Escamilla. And those questions deal either directly or tangentially with issues/traits Mendenhall has been pushing in her campaign videos and mailings.


To wit:

— When asked “Who has the right experience to be mayor:” 33 percent say Mendenhall, 18 percent say Escamilla, and 49 percent say both women.

That 15 percentage-point difference is significant for Mendenhall, who has pointed out that the last two mayors — Mayor Jackie Biskupski and former Mayor Ralph Becker came out of the Utah House in their political experience, and Becker lost to Biskupski four years ago and the current mayor decided not to run for re-election this year after getting disappointing polling numbers.

So Mendenhall is saying give me the office, I have the right experience in actually running the city from the council position, while the last two legislative-experience mayors didn’t do very well with voters.

— On the question “Who is a good administrator:” Mendenhall gets 30 percent, Escamilla 18 percent, with 52 percent saying both women show that expertise.

Again, Mendenhall is selling in her campaigning that she has done the job of administrating the city from the city council, while Escamilla as a sitting legislator doesn’t actually run the state (although lawmakers adopt the state budget each year).

Of course, considering that Mendenhall is leading Escamilla by 10 percentage points, it is natural that when you breakdown each woman via issues and traits, Mendenhall’s supporters, being greater than Escamilla’s, would likely name their candidate in these kinds of “qualities” polling.

But on other issues in the polling, the women are much closer together in individual preferences by city voters:

— “Cares about people like me:” Mendenhall is at 24 percent, Escamilla at 21 percent, with 55 percent saying both women.

— “Is honest and trustworthy:” both are at 17 percent individually, with 66 percent saying both women.

— “Shares my beliefs:” 36 percent for Mendenhall and 26 percent for Escamilla, 41 percent said both women.

— “Gets things done:” 29 percent like Mendenhall, while 18 percent go with Escamilla, and 54 percent say both women.

It’s fair to say this has been a rather mild-manner final match-up, both women are kind to each other and non-confrontational.

That doesn’t always make for a lively election these days, but perhaps a welcomed one considering what is going on in Washington, D.C.

Both women oppose the Republican Legislature’s creation of an inland port west of the Salt Lake City International Airport, which is generally seen as the GOP-controlled state taking over undeveloped land in the city — bypassing to some extent city fathers, or in this case, city mothers.

A geographic breakout by city council districts of the poll results show Escamilla strong on the city’s westside, where her state Senate district lies, while Mendenhall is strong in the central and east side neighborhoods, where she is from.

Unfortunately, some would say, former Mayor Rocky Anderson inserted religion into the mayor’s race this year in social media postings — which turned into general commentary in media outlets.

Escamilla is actively LDS — while most city residents are not. While the city is the headquarters of the world-wide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we haven’t had an active LDS mayor since Ted Wilson back in the 1980s.

Mendenhall is not LDS.

Utah Political Trends poll finds that Escamilla leads Mendenhall among “very active” LDS members, 52-46 percent; she leads Mendenhall 55-39 percent among those who said they are “less active” Mormons.

Those of other religions, or no religion, favor Mendenhall to various degrees, the poll finds.