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Tuesday, September 15, 2009
A Few Notes on Tonight's Election Results

In American Fork, that is. There's a bit of a surprise in the mayoral race, but it's an open question how much it will mean in November, with a much higher voter turnout.

The totals and percentages from today's election in American Fork are elsewhere at LocalCommentary.com; see separate results for the mayoral and city council primaries. The numbers are unofficial, and absentee and provisional ballots still haven't been counted. It is mathematically possible but quite unlikely that they will change one or both races' results.

There are two surprises here. In ascending order . . .

My predictions for the city council race basically came true. (That's the surprise.) MFCC finished first, and Councilman Dale Gunther, the other incumbent, finished second. Rob Ellison was a reasonably strong third, and Jess Green finished a distant fourth, unless the absentee and provisional ballots throw fourth place to Darren Cooper in the end. (My calling this one right is not a great achievement.)

Here's the real, large surprise:

Mayor Heber Thompson finished far enough back in second place -- behind James Hadfield -- that it's mathematically possible he will be eliminated by absentee ballots, when they are counted. It's not likely at all, but the fact that it's possible is shocking. For reasons I won't belabor here, I thought we'd have a race to watch for the next seven weeks if Thompson won 60 percent of the vote and the challengers split the other 40 percent. But Thompson has only just a hair over half of that threshold percentage in today's primary: 30.3 percent.

I appear to have picked the right two survivors of today's primary -- again, not an earthshaking achievement -- but I had no idea that Hadfield would finish in first place, let alone by a substantial margin.

I think it's safe to say that Ed Cameron's ground game was very effective. I heard from a number of people whose doors he knocked on, who liked him and said they wanted to know more. In fact, they asked me for more information, but I didn't have much to give them (as you see elsewhere at LocalCommentary.com).

So it was an unexpectedly good day for Hadfield -- who retired from his job at the City earlier today, by the way -- and a pretty good spanking for Thompson, who probably survives to campaign another day. Cameron apparently finishes out of the running but ran a good, strong third.

Here's the thing to remember: Turnout was a little over 12 percent -- neither high nor surprisingly low for a September municipal primary. It's likely that between two and three times that many people will vote in November, so the margins of victory here mean very little. We have no idea what those other people think, or whether today's voters are a reasonable cross-section of November's voters.

All we know is that it appears to be a wide-open mayoral race, probably between Hadfield and Thompson. It should be interesting to watch -- which may be more than we can say for the city council race, but you never know. The same disclaimer about low turnout applies there.

For the moment, I will venture one more prediction about the mayoral campaign: It will be vigorous, probably heated at times, and that's fine. In fact, it's wonderful. But before it's over, someone (or some few) not affiliated with either campaign will go dirty in public, probably right before the election, probably anonymously -- but definitely in the spirit of the October surprise. When that happens, I hope voters will simply tune out the trash and concentrate on the candidates and the legitimate issues, legitimately and honorably addressed.

Mark Steele comments (9/16/09, via Facebook):

Since the mayors seeking reelection in our neighboring towns, Cedar Hills and Lehi, both got bounced by voters, maybe Heber Thompson's surviving to the finals is a good sign for him.

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