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Taylorsville Journal

Councilwoman Overson defeats incumbent to become Taylorsville City’s sixth mayor

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Carl Fauver

The new Taylorsville mayor and city council member show off the signs that helped get them elected. (Carl Fauver)

In a fall election season that generated a high number of female candidates nationwide, Taylorsville will see its second woman at the helm — in just over 20 years of existence — after City Councilwoman Kristie Overson upended incumbent Larry Johnson in the Nov. 7 vote.

A city council seat was also reclaimed by a female, as elementary school teacher and mother of four Meredith Harker defeated Ron Allred for the District 4 post.   She replaces two-term incumbent Dama Barbour, who chose not to run again.

The election’s only incumbent winner was District 5 City Councilman Dan Armstrong who won a second term over 19-year-old University of Utah student John Fuller.

Every race was won by at least 15 points, with Overson earning 57 percent of the vote, Harker 62 percent and Armstrong 67 percent.   Taylorsville voter turnout ranged from 29 to 32 percent, in the city’s first-ever vote-by-mail.

“I’m really excited and glad I knocked on all those doors,” Overson said. “I got to hear so many concerns from our residents Many of them also said they just weren’t aware of things that are happening. Improving communication will be one of my top priorities as mayor.”

Mayor Johnson leaves after one term in office.

“(I’m) just wishing the new mayor success and hope that she can keep the city on the good track it’s going,” Johnson said in a text message.“(I’m) pleased with the direction the city is going in growth and taking the burden off the people (with) no tax increase in my time as mayor. Taylorsville is better off than it was four years ago. Taylorsville is a great place to raise a family.”

Mayor-elect Overson celebrated her win on election night by renting the Taylorsville City Council chambers to host a reception for volunteers and supporters. Among those on hand was Councilwoman-elect Meredith Harker.

“I’m excited, overwhelmed, relieved and surprised the vote wasn’t closer,” Harker said. “I think my different perspective appealed to the voters. I’m in the trenches right now, with kids in school and raising a young family.”

Harker credits social media as a big key to her victory.

“I used Facebook, Instagram and created my own website to help keep the lines of communication open,” she added. “I want to keep communication flowing and also concentrate on developing a strategic transportation plan for Taylorsville.”

Harker will replace eight-year Councilwoman Dama Barbour in January.

“I couldn’t be happier with Kristie and Meredith winning,” Barbour said. “They will bring strong leadership and communication to the council. When I decided two terms was enough for me, I was concerned a woman’s perspective stay on the council. I also wanted someone bold and a bit younger. I supported Meredith from the day I met her.”

That meeting came about when another female officeholder took action. Taylorsville High School graduate and current resident Aimee Winder Newton represents the city — as well as parts of West Jordan, Murray and other cities — on the Salt Lake County Council.   

“When I learned council member Barbour was retiring, I took Meredith to lunch and asked her if she had ever considered running,” Winder Newton said. “She is so energetic and genuinely cares. We need a young mother’s perspective (on the Taylorsville City Council). She fills a demographic we don’t have now. I’m happy for her and for Kristie (Overson). I recruited her into government years ago too.”

Also at the mayor-elect’s reception celebrating both wins was Taylorsville City Council Chairman Brad Christopherson, who had publicly endorsed each candidate.

“I knew Meredith because my daughter was in her third-grade class (until June),” Christopherson said. “She began learning about city government — and attending council meetings — a year ago. I think very highly of her.”

As for Mayor-elect Overson, the council chair added, “I have worked with Kristie for a long time. Her diligence and work ethic are incredible. When she goes to meetings, she shares everything she learned with the rest of us. I like her ideas and her communication skills.”

The lone incumbent to survive the night — District 5 Councilman Armstrong — said he was both pleased and disappointed with the results.

“All I can do is wipe the sweat off and be happy about my own win,” he said. “I am disappointed in the mayor’s race. Mayor Johnson put his heart and soul into the job. It’s rare to find a people person who also has great business savvy. But I do like Kristy, and if she hadn’t been facing Larry, I would have voted for her. I know she will continue to be great to work with.”

Kristie Overson will be the second female mayor of Taylorsville and sixth overall:

 Lavelle Prince – 1996–1997

Janice Auger (Rasmussen) – 1998–2005

Russ Wall – 2006–2012

Jerry Rechtenbach – 2013

Larry Johnson – 2014–2017

Kristie Overson – 2018

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