Ogden Mayor Caldwell won’t run again: ‘It’s time for me to do new things’
OGDEN — Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell, who had been quiet thus far about his plans this election cycle, won’t run for a fourth term as leader of the city.
“It wasn’t tough,” he told the Standard-Examiner on Friday in announcing the decision. “It’s time for me to do new things.”
The announcement comes as the 2023 mayoral campaign is already unfolding. Four hopefuls have so far stepped forward to run for the top spot in Ogden, including Taylor Knuth, Angel Castillo and Chris Barragan. Ben Nadolski, a member of the Ogden City Council, has said he plans to run and is scheduled to formally kick of his campaign at an event Friday evening.
Though a lively campaign for the top city post seems to be in the offing, Caldwell — first elected mayor in 2011 and reelected in 2015 and 2019 — said he’ll steer clear of it, focusing on city affairs through the rest of 2023, the remainder of his term. He’s still got the next city budget to help craft, he said, and he’s “not planning to take any role at all” in the mayoral race.
As he looks to move on from the mayor’s post, he pointed to several accomplishments during his tenure as Ogden’s leader, also taking care to note the role of other city staffers and officials in achieving them.
“Thousands” of new housing units are available in the city center, he said, and an attitudinal shift has occurred among developers, who are now more inclined to pursue development opportunities in Ogden than before. The downtown has become a much more vibrant place, though some of the redevelopment initiatives in the zone preceded his tenure.
“Together, we have achieved unprecedented economic growth, improved hundreds of millions in infrastructure, managed a pandemic and found ourselves in the national spotlight for ‘best places to’ in nearly every category,” Caldwell said in a statement.
Talking to the Standard-Examiner, Caldwell also lauded the efforts of Ogden Police Chief Eric Young and Young’s predecessor Randy Watt, noting a dip of some 20% in recent years in more violent criminal activity. Ogden used to sit at the top of the list in Utah in terms of its per-capita crime rate but has now fallen to 15th or 16th place.
Though ready for “new challenges and opportunities,” what those will be has yet to be determined. He’s received “a couple of offers,” Caldwell said, but he’s not focused that far ahead yet. “I haven’t committed to anything,” he said.
When he finishes his term, Caldwell will tie Matthew Godfrey, Ogden’s mayor from 2000-2012, as having the second-longest tenure leading the city. The only other mayor to serve longer was Lorin Farr, who was the first Ogden mayor and served two stints, from 1851-1870 and from 1877-1878.
The 2011 mayoral race was Caldwell’s first bid for electoral office. Before that, he worked for Weber County, handling a range of responsibilities — public information, management of the Ice Sheet, oversight of funding coming from the special 0.1% sales tax meant for recreation and arts initiatives.
Before his stint with Weber County, he helped with organizing and planning of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
While ready for a change, Caldwell’s departure from city government isn’t without any bittersweet elements. He said he’ll miss working with city employees, lauding their dedication and professionalism. “That will be something I miss more than anything else,” he said.