Berube wins North Ogden mayoral race, incumbents win in council contests
S. Neal Berube, candidate for North Ogden mayor in Nov. 5, 2019, elections.
Lynn Satterthwaite, candidate for North Ogden mayor in Nov. 5, 2019, elections.
Crysta PoVey drops her election ballot in the drop box on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, at the Weber County Library in North Ogden.
NORTH OGDEN — S. Neal Berube will become North Ogden’s new mayor.
Voters overwhelmingly picked him to lead the city over Lynn Satterthwaite in voting culminating Tuesday, 2,752 votes to 2,069 votes, a 57.1%-42.9% split, according to unofficial returns. Berube will fill out the last two years of the term won in 2017 by Brent Taylor, the city’s late mayor, who was killed last year in Afghanistan.
At the same time, voters elected four North Ogden City Council members, three incumbents and one newcomer, according to the preliminary numbers. Six vied for three four-year seats on the council and the victors, in order of votes received, were incumbent Ryan Barker; Charlotte Ekstrom, who wins public office for the first time; and Phillip Swanson, also an incumbent. Cheryl Stoker, an incumbent, defeated Wade Bigler in the race for the last two years of a fourth City Council seat.
Berube, seeking office for the first time, said he will take his cue as leader from the public, a message he sounded as he campaigned. “We listen to them,” said Berube, chief executive officer of Associated Food Stores.
BEN DORGER, Standard-Examiner
An early focus after he takes office next January, he said, will likely be doing what’s possible to manage high-density housing development and making sure that the city has the infrastructure and policing capabilities required to accommodate it. “We want to make sure the city is ready for that,” he said.
Trying to reduce the city’s public utility bills, or at least minimizing increases, will likely be another key issue that gets early attention.
Satterthwaite, a retired engineer, served a term on the City Council under Taylor. His message as a candidate had focused on operating city government efficiently and fiscal responsibility.
With the city’s mayoral post up for grabs and four of five city council seats on the ballot, it was an intense campaign season at times in North Ogden. Five candidates had campaigned together, Satterthwaite, Swanson, Ekstrom, Stoker and Randy Winn, who fell short in his City Council bid, irking some who questioned how independent they could be.
At the same time, the legacy of Brent Taylor, killed while on a year-long deployment to Afghanistan with the Utah Army National Guard, loomed in the background. Taylor successfully pushed for the expansion of the amphitheater at Barker Park soon before his deployment, and the upgrade, largely complete, subsequently became a bitter point of debate in the city, with some foes questioning the process followed in approving the plans. Taylor’s tenure wasn’t a central talking point for either candidate in campaigning, though his widow, Jennie Taylor, endorsed Satterthwaite.
Whatever the case, Berube said he expected good relations with the City Council when he takes office.
“I think we’ve all got to learn that politics should not be personal,” he said. Maintaining good relations is “a two-way street,” he continued, “and the one I will be working on as mayor is open.”
Brent Chugg was appointed to serve as North Ogden mayor when Taylor deployed to Afghanistan. After Taylor’s death, the city council tabbed him to continue in the post through 2019, and Tuesday’s winner will serve as mayor in 2020 and 2021, the last two years of the term Taylor won in 2017.
With four of five City Council posts on the ballot, along with the mayor’s seat, there was potential for dramatic change in city government. But with the three incumbent council members winning, voters decided to stick with the familiar. Carl Turner, an incumbent council member, was up for reelection but decided not to go for another term.
At any rate, balloting for the three four-year council posts was close. The preliminary vote totals were Barker with 2,672 votes, 20.2% of the total; Ekstrom with 2,430 votes, or 18.4%; and Swanson with 2,293 votes, 17.4%. Winn followed closely behind in fourth place with 2,272 votes, or 17.2%.
Aside from Winn, the other candidates who fell short in balloting for the four-year City Council seats were Julie Anderson and Ron Flamm.