Ogden mayoral race, now narrowed to 2, marches forward
OGDEN — Ogden’s mayoral race marches forward.
A week after the primary that whittled the seven-candidate field to two — Taylor Knuth and Ben Nadolski — the candidates aren’t sitting back, not for an extended period anyway.
Knuth, for one, says his campaigners plan to start pounding the pavement this coming weekend. His day job is as deputy director in the Salt Lake City Department of Economic Development.
“You’ll see us out on the doors as soon as Saturday,” he said. “The message remains unchanged.”
Likewise, Nadolski isn’t planning a lot of down time. “I have a couple days of backcountry fishing on my calendar with my best friends. But other than that, we are full speed ahead until the general election is over,” he said.
Nadolski is regional supervisor at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and is now finishing his second term as a member of the Ogden City Council.
Knuth edged out Nadolski for the top spot in the primary, 1,997 votes to 1,829. Still, it was a relatively close contest, with none of the top finishers mustering more than 20% of the vote. Knuth’s total amounted to 19.8% of ballots cast compared to 18.2% for Nadolski, 17.6% for Bart Blair, 16.8% for Angel Castillo and 15.4% for Jon Greiner.
Now, Nadolski and Knuth will face off to determine who replaces three-term Mayor Mike Caldwell, who isn’t running this cycle. Voting culminates Nov. 21, giving the candidates about two and a half months to seek out support and votes.
Knuth’s main message as a hopeful focuses on community, connection and character. “I’m running for mayor to ensure our city gets back to the basics: cultivating a vibrant community, focusing on human connection and building good character,” he says on his campaign website.
Nadolski touts his experience as a City Council member and his ability to bring people together. “Ogden needs someone with experience who will bring an ability to engage the public and build strategic partnerships with people and organizations. We need someone who has a deep understanding of the issues and has actively worked towards solving them,” he says on his campaign website.
Other issues of note that have gotten close scrutiny include growth and development around Ogden’s core, including the proposed revamping of the Union Station campus, housing and more.
Meantime, one of the other contenders who lost out in the primary, Castillo, is staying involved, this time as a supporter of Nadolski’s campaign.
She posted a public video on her Facebook page last Friday after meeting with Nadolski, announcing her support for him. She singled out what she says is his focus on promoting homeownership, a big issue for her.
Nadolski, she said, “really does care about a pathway to affordable homeownership.” She’s been studying the other hopefuls, she added, as the campaign has progressed.
The other four contenders expressed more reticence about having a role in the mayoral contest going forward.
Blair doesn’t plan to make an endorsement, he said, because he’s on the City Council and will have to work with whoever the eventual winner is.
Greiner, now retired but formerly Ogden’s police chief, said the Knuth and Nadolski campaigns have reached out and asked to meet with him, though he’s reserving judgement, at least for now. “I’m just going to wait and see what they have to say,” he said.
Oscar Mata plans to turn his focus to his business, which provides substance abuse and domestic violence assessments for clients across Utah, and his leadership post in the Utah Democratic Party, where he serves as vice chairperson. He finished sixth in primary balloting.
Chris Barragan, who finished seventh in the primary, said he’s not making any endorsement, at least at this stage. “Give me and any other candidate that didn’t advance some time to figure out where these candidates really stand. They have another 70ish days to build a case for leading our city. Heck, there might be a write-in candidate worth looking at. You never know,” he said.
As for the Castillo endorsement, Nadolski said he welcomes support from anyone who believes in the message of his campaign, but that his main focus is on garnering backing at the grassroots level in the city. “While I’m honored to receive these types of endorsements from other candidates, I aspire to earn the support of our Ogden residents and am happy to put in the work to meet with and discuss my vision for Ogden with them,” he said.
Knuth said “coalition building” will be central in his campaign going forward. He’d welcome support from other former mayoral aspirants or anyone as long as their values align with his, he said.