Ralph Becker's bid for a third term in City Hall appears to have fallen short Tuesday night.
Challenger Jackie Biskupski appeared to have bested Becker by a slight 1450 vote margin Tuesday. That's certainly not as big as the 15-point whipping she put on him during the August primary election.
Tuesday's results squared with pre-election polls that showed the race within a couple of percentage points.
Becker outspent Biskupski by a nearly 2-1 margin in the effort to win a rare third term in City Hall. The last Salt Lake City Mayor to do that was Ted Wilson, who resigned in the middle of his third term to head up the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah.
Becker can probably blame his handling of the Chris Burbank issue for his failure to win a third term. In a recent Dan Jones poll, 24% of likely voters said they were more apt to vote for Biskupski because of Becker's handling of the volatile issue. Biskupski capitalized on the public relations nightmare Becker created for himself with the situation.
Another big factor for Biskupski is voters just liked her better. In a pre-election tracking poll, 70% of voters said they had a positive view of Biskupski while only 30% said their perception of her was negative. Meanwhile, Becker only had a 56% positive rating with a 44% negative mark. The gap between the two is numbers is significant as Biskupski had a whopping +40 net approval while Becker's was +12.
If the results hold up after all of the remaining vote-by-mail ballots are counted, Biskupski will become the first openly gay mayor in Salt Lake City's history, and only second woman to hold the office.
In the three Salt Lake City Council races:
- Challenger Andrew Johnston appears to have defeated former Councilman Van Blair Turner in District #2. That seat is open after Kyle LaMalfa decided not to seek re-election to maintain his personal relationship with fellow council member Erin Mendenhall.
- Derek Kitchen appears to have defeated Nate Salazar in District #4. The winner will replace Council Chair Luke Garrott who did not run for re-election in favor of an unsuccessful bid for Mayor.
- In District #6, Charlie Luke easily won another term on the council, defeating Tracey Harty, who was running for a second time.
Salt Lake County voters also appeared to have narrowly defeated Prop. 1, which would have hiked sales taxes to pay for transportation.
There are still outstanding ballots that will come in over the next few days, but unless thousands of voters waited until the last minute to mail their votes, Tuesday's results are likely to stand.
The final election results will be made known on November 17.