CORINNE -- Things are a little quiet out in north Box Elder County. So quiet that last month city leaders here canceled next week's municipal election.
Nobody filed for the mayor's job this year, not even the current mayor -- Richard Nimori retired from work at ATK-Thiokol and is ready to travel and relax. Furthermore, only one person filed to run for city council, with two open seats, before the filing deadline in June.
Two write-ins did come forward, declaring before the Sept. 6 cut-off for write-ins. Brent Merkley for mayor, and Diana Otvos for one of the council seats. She joined Ian Buell, the lone candidate who formally filed back in June, to make for two council candidates.
And none were incumbents. "Nope, nobody re-ran," said Kendra Norman, Corinne City Clerk.
"Until something goes wrong, people are satisfied I guess," said Nimori, finishing his second term as mayor in this town of 685.
"Eight years ago, when I first got in, I was on the phone constantly, a call a day at least with someone disgruntled about something. Now it's just one or two a month. I suppose that means something."
"I guess they're satisfied," said Norman of the citizenry, adding that any controversy would likely attract more candidates. "That happens when you have lots of growth, lots of things going on. We don't have that."
So the number of Corinne candidates equalled the number of positions open. In years past, cities would have to hold the election anyway, pay for ballots and election judges, register voters and log tallies. The elections would go forward even if some positions drew no candidates. In January the little town councils would make appointments as necessary to fill vacancies, officials said.
But now a 2-year-old state law allows a city to simply cancel an uncontested election.
Corinne did so last month, by resolution, which also named Merkley the new mayor and Otvos and Buell to the council effective Jan. 1.
Nearby Bear River city, population 800 estimated, was nearly in the same boat as Corinne. Nobody filed for mayor in June and only two filed for two city council seats.
Mayor Richard Holmgren did not seek re-election.
"They're paid not quite $1 a day," said his wife Sue. "And they've got to dig the graves, at least Richard and my in-laws do, and everything else.
"I mow the cemetery lawn. One of the council members takes care of the sewage system. It's like that. It's not as though the city hires a lot of maintenance people. Everyone has a job."
But unlike Corinne, a comparative bevy of candidates came forward in Bear River city -- as three write-ins stepped up by September, two for mayor and one for city council. So Bear River will have its municipal election next week.
Three other small north Box Elder towns, all half the size of Corinne and Bear River, also canceled next week's elections for lack on interest.
That's Deweyville, Fielding and Howell, said Marla Young, Box Elder County Clerk, whose office contracts to run elections for several of the smaller towns.
Her office also trains and advises the city clerks on election law, and she said the 2011 statute that allows for cancelling of elections only seems to come into play for the municipal elections every two years. Not for the hubbub of the county elections in between which feature state and national races, she said.
Mark Thomas, chief deputy Lt. Governor, echoed Young, saying in 2011, the first year the statute took effect, some 70 cities statewide canceled their uncontested elections, and a similar number have this year.
"It was costing them $30 and $40 a vote to put on elections where the outcome was not in doubt," Thomas said. "The Municipal Clerks Association came to us and asked for the change. They just weren't getting contested elections ... In these small towns, it can almost be like 'It's somebody else's turn.'"
"Apparently it's just been a year where there hasn't been much interest," said Young. "It's kind of sad I think. Tremonton was close until some write-ins came in."
"Maybe we should have done a lousy job, just to stir up some interest," Nimori suggested.
Contact reporter Tim Gurrister at (801)625-4238, email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tgurrister