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Why the Salt Lake City mayor’s race matters — to the city, Utah and the nation

The Salt Lake City-County Building photographed from inside the Matheson Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
The Salt Lake City-County Building photographed from inside the Matheson Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
The Salt Lake City-County Building photographed from inside the Matheson Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
The Salt Lake City-County Building photographed from inside the Matheson Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
The Salt Lake City-County Building photographed from inside the Matheson Courthouse on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
The Salt Lake City-County Building on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Thirteen years ago, now former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson captured national attention for Utah in an unexpected way when he led an anti-war protest against then-President George W. Bush during his visit to the state.

It was an eyebrow-raising moment for national onlookers — to see a mayor from a state widely considered one of the nation’s most conservative strongholds leading a protest against the Republican president.

“Wow. And this guy is the mayor of the biggest city in … Utah?” Bob Geiger wrote in 2006 in the Huffington Post under the headline, “SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson: A Righteous Dude in a Wrong State.”

That historical moment is a snapshot of what Salt Lake City has represented in its unique political and social position as Utah’s capital city — long considered an island of blue in a sea of red at the heart of conservative Utah.

During the past four decades, Salt Lake voters have consistently elected Democratic mayors, though technically city elections are nonpartisan — and this year’s election, beginning with Tuesday’s primary, is likely to be no different.

All frontrunner candidates vying to finish in the top two in today’s primary, based off of recent polls, are Democrats — and all have campaigned in one form or another with a promise that they’ll be a voice for Salt Lake City’s progressive ideals despite a GOP-controlled Utah Legislature and mostly Republican congressional delegation (save for recently elected moderate Democrat Congressman Ben McAdams).

The question is what kind of Democrat will Salt Lake City voters likely elect?

Why S.L.’s mayor matters

Though political tension between Utah’s GOP and Salt Lake City’s mayor may continue, political and economic pundits say Salt Lake City’s working relationship with the state is critical — not just for the city, but for Utah as a whole.

“Salt Lake City is our urban center. It’s the front porch, central living area of our state,” Natalie Gochnour, associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, told the Deseret News in a recent interview. “It’s certainly the symbol of our state to outsiders.”

As Utah’s capital, its center of commerce, its transportation hub, its center of culture and entertainment, Gochnour said Salt Lake City “really belongs to everyone in Utah.”

Salt Lake City’s mayor “plays an important role in representing diverse perspectives,” Gochnour said, but also represents a city that acts as a gateway to the rest of Utah.

“No matter where you live in Utah, this is your city,” she said. “So in a very real sense, the Salt Lake City mayor is a mayor to the entire state.”

Jason Perry, head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, shared a similar insight.

“Being the mayor of Salt Lake City is an important position, as our capital city, the policies and the brand Salt Lake City carries has an impact throughout the country and throughout the world,” Perry said. “Salt Lake City provides a lens that people use to view the state of Utah.”

Gochnour wrote in a Deseret News column last week that all Utahns should care about the mayor’s race because “Salt Lake City belongs to all Utahns.” And while she’s not a voter in the city, she said she cares who voters elect for the future of the city because she views the greater Salt Lake region as a “single commutershed, airshed, watershed and regional economy.”

“The region is well served by leaders who recognize this interconnection and embrace the needs of the larger region,” Gochnour wrote. “He or she must be a ‘mayor to the region’ because solutions to many problems will transcend political boundaries.

“The idea that Salt Lake City can carve itself out as an urban island is false,” she continued. “Both the city and the region share a common destiny.”

Relationships between governments can impact Utah’s economy in that it can also affect the state’s appeal to businesses, Perry said.

“Businesses like predictability,” he said. “And believe me, a city and the state can implement policies that can drive businesses away. Utah has not done that, and as we look to the next mayor … people are looking to that as well. What candidate will help improve the economic climate of Salt Lake City and therefore the state?”

Big issues facing Salt Lake City’s next mayor over the next five years likely include issues that have highlighted the mayor’s race so far: the clash with the state over the Utah Inland Port Authority, what role the city will play as the county and state ushers in Utah’s overhauled homeless system, housing affordability, air quality and environmental policies, and more, Perry said.

Gochnour said this year’s pool of eight mayoral candidates contains an “uber-talented group” with their own sets of expertise and passions, which is a “refreshing change from the bone-on-bone politics, contempt and self-interest found in Washington, D.C.”

Though the personalities of this year’s mayoral candidates run the gamut of “showy, folksy, scholarly, diplomatic, down-to-earth, approachable, expressive, fun, genuine, intense and more,” as Gochnour put it, all have promised they’ll work well with state leaders while also being Salt Lake City’s progressive voice.

Experience is what varies candidate to candidate in the mayor’s race — whether it’s on Capitol Hill, in City Hall, on environmental issues, or in the business realm.

Others have also taken stronger environmental stances against the inland port, even though all frontrunners have pledged to continue Biskupski’s lawsuit against the state to hash out the Utah Inland Port authority’s constitutionality.

“Some have a reputation for collaborating and building consensus; others seem more emboldened in their viewpoints,” Gochnour wrote. “Voters face a difficult decision filled with tradeoffs.”

Salt Lake City’s mayoral candidates, listed in alphabetical order by last name, are former state Sen. Jim Dabakis, state Sen. Luz Escamilla, former Pioneer Park executive director and environmental lawyer David Garbett, freelance journalist Richard Goldberger, retired electrical engineer Rainer Huck, businessman David Ibarra, Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall, and former Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold.

All candidates are registered Democrats except Huck, who is registered as a Libertarian.

City’s next voice

Headed into the 2020 presidential election — a time when American politics continue to be hotly divisive along deepening party lines — Salt Lake City’s next mayor will likely continue to be among the only few powerful Democratic voices sounding out of Utah — a symbol that there’s still a beating blue heart in the otherwise red Beehive state.

That voice can give outsiders a different lens through which to view into Utah — like when Anderson led the protest against Bush, capturing the attention of national media and giving Utah’s minority party a rare spotlight.

“We can have a particularly powerful impact nationally and sometimes internationally when people organize in the capital of what is typically a majority Republican state,” Anderson said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. “People can look at what we do in Salt Lake City, and they can say, ‘If they can do that in Salt Lake City, they ought to be able to do this anywhere.'”

For Anderson, it was the anti-war protests. When current Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski was first elected nearly four years ago, she made national headlines as the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Today, Biskupski continues to be a prominent voice and symbol for the LGBT community and steps into the national arena on issues ranging from climate change to immigration reform to gun laws. Last week, Biskupski joined more than 200 U.S. mayors calling for bipartisan gun reform following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Biskupski also made headlines after she reiterated a longstanding policy that Salt Lake police officers will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Later this month, Salt Lake City will host the 2019 United Nations Civil Society Conference — the first time it will be held in the United States outside of New York — where Biskupski has encouraged the United Nations to make sustainability goals a focus.

Past Salt Lake mayors have contributed on the national level in various forms. Deedee Corradini served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 1998. Ralph Becker was named president of the National League of Cities in 2014.

At the state level, the mayor plays an important and at times a tricky role, too.

Anderson, in his time, gained a reputation to some within the state as a loud liberal who occasionally angered Republicans and clashed with state leaders. Today, though Biskupski has a different personality style, that pattern continues — most apparent in the conflict with the Utah Inland Port Authority and her lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

She’s since refused to engage with state leaders on the issue, standing firm on her position to not negotiate on legislation that she says has been “designed to incrementally force Salt Lake City to bend to the Legislature’s will.” Last month, Biskupski refused to stand in the same room as Gov. Gary Herbert for a press conference regarding protests against the port authority.

To Becker, Salt Lake City’s mayor’s role leading what he calls a “bright blue dot in a deep sea of red” will always have “natural” tension with the state — and “whether people think of it as positive or negative it depends on who you talk to.”

But Becker also said he agrees with Gochnour — that Salt Lake City’s mayor represents the entire state in certain ways — and that can sometimes put the mayor in a tricky position while taking seriously that “responsibility” to be Salt Lake City’s Democratic voice.

“While there are differences politically with the state, how the mayor carries that responsibility makes an enormous difference in how this city is treated within the state,” Becker said.

“In my experience, if I was super respectful and worked with people in an amiable fashion, but stood up for what was important for Salt Lake City, it brought both respect, understanding, and actually I will say in my case enormous support for things that we pushed.”

Becker pointed to his administration’s success with passing an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance. Even though some warned him that the state may pre-empt the law, that fight never came.

“Not getting in unnecessary fights with the state, we were able to obtain enormous support,” Becker said.

Though Salt Lake City’s election is dominated by Democrats, Republican voters could have an influence over this year’s primary election.

That’s especially because recent polls show such tight margins between candidates, with about 28 percent of voters undecided, according to a recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinkley Institute of Politics poll. Of those undecided voters, the poll showed about 50 percent are Republican — and that could have fairly significant influence over who wins the primary, said University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank.

“I certainly think they can,” Burbank said, but added that it’s a tough choice for Republicans because no candidate clearly stands out as their top pick. But if Republicans fall behind one or two candidates “that can have a big impact, particularly in the primary.”

Still, Salt Lake City’s historical track record of “tension” between its mayor and the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature is likely here to stay. “I don’t think that dynamic is necessarily going to change,” Perry said.

“Tension can be an (important) part of the political process where various viewpoints are expressed,” Perry added, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the next Salt Lake mayor can’t get along with state leaders.

“They will need to work with our Legislature,” Perry said. “They will be able to represent their constituents, and they should, but Salt Lake City is part of the state of Utah … so understanding the need to work together will be critical going forward.

“That doesn’t mean bending to anyone’s will, necessarily, but understanding there is a greater good,” Perry said. “We need to be wise and find the right balance.”

“Salt Lake City is our urban center. It’s the front porch, central living area of our state,” Natalie Gochnour, associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, told the Deseret News in a recent interview. “It’s certainly the symbol of our state to outsiders.”

As Utah’s capital, its center of commerce, its transportation hub, its center of culture and entertainment, Gochnour said Salt Lake City “really belongs to everyone in Utah.”

Salt Lake City’s mayor “plays an important role in representing diverse perspectives,” Gochnour said, but also represents a city that acts as a gateway to the rest of Utah.

“No matter where you live in Utah, this is your city,” she said. “So in a very real sense, the Salt Lake City mayor is a mayor to the entire state.”

Jason Perry, head of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, shared a similar insight.

“Being the mayor of Salt Lake City is an important position, as our capital city, the policies and the brand Salt Lake City carries has an impact throughout the country and throughout the world,” Perry said. “Salt Lake City provides a lens that people use to view the state of Utah.”

Gochnour wrote in a Deseret News column last week that all Utahns should care about the mayor’s race because “Salt Lake City belongs to all Utahns.” And while she’s not a voter in the city, she said she cares who voters elect for the future of the city because she views the greater Salt Lake region as a “single commutershed, airshed, watershed and regional economy.”

“The region is well served by leaders who recognize this interconnection and embrace the needs of the larger region,” Gochnour wrote. “He or she must be a ‘mayor to the region’ because solutions to many problems will transcend political boundaries.

“The idea that Salt Lake City can carve itself out as an urban island is false,” she continued. “Both the city and the region share a common destiny.”

Relationships between governments can impact Utah’s economy in that it can also affect the state’s appeal to businesses, Perry said.

“Businesses like predictability,” he said. “And believe me, a city and the state can implement policies that can drive businesses away. Utah has not done that, and as we look to the next mayor … people are looking to that as well. What candidate will help improve the economic climate of Salt Lake City and therefore the state?”

Big issues facing Salt Lake City’s next mayor over the next five years likely include issues that have highlighted the mayor’s race so far: the clash with the state over the Utah Inland Port Authority, what role the city will play as the county and state ushers in Utah’s overhauled homeless system, housing affordability, air quality and environmental policies, and more, Perry said.

Gochnour said this year’s pool of eight mayoral candidates contains an “uber-talented group” with their own sets of expertise and passions, which is a “refreshing change from the bone-on-bone politics, contempt and self-interest found in Washington, D.C.”

Though the personalities of this year’s mayoral candidates run the gamut of “showy, folksy, scholarly, diplomatic, down-to-earth, approachable, expressive, fun, genuine, intense and more,” as Gochnour put it, all have promised they’ll work well with state leaders while also being Salt Lake City’s progressive voice.

Experience is what varies candidate to candidate in the mayor’s race — whether it’s on Capitol Hill, in City Hall, on environmental issues, or in the business realm.

Others have also taken stronger environmental stances against the inland port, even though all frontrunners have pledged to continue Biskupski’s lawsuit against the state to hash out the Utah Inland Port authority’s constitutionality.

“Some have a reputation for collaborating and building consensus; others seem more emboldened in their viewpoints,” Gochnour wrote. “Voters face a difficult decision filled with tradeoffs.”

Salt Lake City’s mayoral candidates, listed in alphabetical order by last name, are former state Sen. Jim Dabakis, state Sen. Luz Escamilla, former Pioneer Park executive director and environmental lawyer David Garbett, freelance journalist Richard Goldberger, retired electrical engineer Rainer Huck, businessman David Ibarra, Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall, and former Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold.

All candidates are registered Democrats except Huck, who is registered as a Libertarian.

City’s next voice

Headed into the 2020 presidential election — a time when American politics continue to be hotly divisive along deepening party lines — Salt Lake City’s next mayor will likely continue to be among the only few powerful Democratic voices sounding out of Utah — a symbol that there’s still a beating blue heart in the otherwise red Beehive state.

That voice can give outsiders a different lens through which to view into Utah — like when Anderson led the protest against Bush, capturing the attention of national media and giving Utah’s minority party a rare spotlight.

“We can have a particularly powerful impact nationally and sometimes internationally when people organize in the capital of what is typically a majority Republican state,” Anderson said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. “People can look at what we do in Salt Lake City, and they can say, ‘If they can do that in Salt Lake City, they ought to be able to do this anywhere.'”

For Anderson, it was the anti-war protests. When current Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski was first elected nearly four years ago, she made national headlines as the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Today, Biskupski continues to be a prominent voice and symbol for the LGBT community and steps into the national arena on issues ranging from climate change to immigration reform to gun laws. Last week, Biskupski joined more than 200 U.S. mayors calling for bipartisan gun reform following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Biskupski also made headlines after she reiterated a longstanding policy that Salt Lake police officers will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Later this month, Salt Lake City will host the 2019 United Nations Civil Society Conference — the first time it will be held in the United States outside of New York — where Biskupski has encouraged the United Nations to make sustainability goals a focus.

Past Salt Lake mayors have contributed on the national level in various forms. Deedee Corradini served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 1998. Ralph Becker was named president of the National League of Cities in 2014.

At the state level, the mayor plays an important and at times a tricky role, too.

Anderson, in his time, gained a reputation to some within the state as a loud liberal who occasionally angered Republicans and clashed with state leaders. Today, though Biskupski has a different personality style, that pattern continues — most apparent in the conflict with the Utah Inland Port Authority and her lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

She’s since refused to engage with state leaders on the issue, standing firm on her position to not negotiate on legislation that she says has been “designed to incrementally force Salt Lake City to bend to the Legislature’s will.” Last month, Biskupski refused to stand in the same room as Gov. Gary Herbert for a press conference regarding protests against the port authority.

To Becker, Salt Lake City’s mayor’s role leading what he calls a “bright blue dot in a deep sea of red” will always have “natural” tension with the state — and “whether people think of it as positive or negative it depends on who you talk to.”

But Becker also said he agrees with Gochnour — that Salt Lake City’s mayor represents the entire state in certain ways — and that can sometimes put the mayor in a tricky position while taking seriously that “responsibility” to be Salt Lake City’s Democratic voice.

“While there are differences politically with the state, how the mayor carries that responsibility makes an enormous difference in how this city is treated within the state,” Becker said.

“In my experience, if I was super respectful and worked with people in an amiable fashion, but stood up for what was important for Salt Lake City, it brought both respect, understanding, and actually I will say in my case enormous support for things that we pushed.”

Becker pointed to his administration’s success with passing an LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance. Even though some warned him that the state may pre-empt the law, that fight never came.

“Not getting in unnecessary fights with the state, we were able to obtain enormous support,” Becker said.

Though Salt Lake City’s election is dominated by Democrats, Republican voters could have an influence over this year’s primary election.

That’s especially because recent polls show such tight margins between candidates, with about 28 percent of voters undecided, according to a recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinkley Institute of Politics poll. Of those undecided voters, the poll showed about 50 percent are Republican — and that could have fairly significant influence over who wins the primary, said University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank.

“I certainly think they can,” Burbank said, but added that it’s a tough choice for Republicans because no candidate clearly stands out as their top pick. But if Republicans fall behind one or two candidates “that can have a big impact, particularly in the primary.”

Still, Salt Lake City’s historical track record of “tension” between its mayor and the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature is likely here to stay. “I don’t think that dynamic is necessarily going to change,” Perry said.

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What USU quarterback Jordan Love took away from the Manning Passing Academy

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love throws a pass against against San Jose State during a game Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Logan, Utah.
Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love rolls out against Michigan State during game, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich.
Al Goldis, FR11125 AP
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love throws the ball against New Mexico during game, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Logan, Utah.
Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love runs against UNLV in Logan on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

LOGAN — Earlier this summer, 35 college football quarterbacks descended upon the small city of Thibodaux, Louisiana, a little over an hour’s drive west-southwest of New Orleans.

Among them were Alabama standout Tua Tagovailoa, Clemson’s national championship winning signal caller Trevor Lawrence, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Missouri’s Kelly Bryant and Notre Dame’s Ian Book.

Also in attendance: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.

What brought so many of college football’s elite to southern Louisiana, specifically to the campus of Nicholls State University, was the 24th edition of the Manning Passing Academy.

Owned and operated by the so-called “first family of football,” including Archie Manning and sons Peyton, Eli and Cooper, the Manning Passing Academy was created to address a perceived lack of “even the most basic fundamentals of throwing (and catching) a football” among high school football players.

“Going to the Manning Passing Academy was great. I learned some stuff from them, from Peyton and Eli, just how they train in the offseason with receivers and how they watch film. I am definitely going to add some of that stuff to my game.”

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love

And so every year the Mannings invite some of the nation’s finest from the professional and college ranks to teach the rising generation.

Love served as a counselor in the latest edition of the camp — which took place this June — as does every college football quarterback in attendance, and the experience was one he won’t soon forget.

“Going to the Manning Passing Academy was great,” Love said. “I learned some stuff from them, from Peyton and Eli, just how they train in the offseason with receivers and how they watch film. I am definitely going to add some of that stuff to my game.”

How the Mannings watch game film proved of particular interest to Love, whose focus this upcoming season is to improve his knowledge of the game of football.

“The main part I always need to improve on is knowledge of the game,” he said. “Knowledge of defenses, and what teams are doing. That comes from watching film, watching tape from last year to see what defenses did. To see how I can improve on every play. I’ve tried to focus on taking away negative plays, like interceptions, bad passes and bad reads, but that just comes from watching film.”

And so, when Peyton — who is known for his dedicated film study — detailed his process, Love was all ears.

“When we were out there we asked questions about how he watches film, and one thing I found interesting was, he watched every game of the team he was about to play,” said Love. “(Peyton) said he doesn’t ever want to be surprised by a blitz he hadn’t seen. I thought that was pretty interesting. Usually, we just watch two or three games to get the basis of what (the other team) is doing, watch cut ups and stuff like that. To watch every play of every game?

“It is hard to watch every play of every game, so we’ll see, but I’ve tried to do that with my game.”

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love runs against UNLV in Logan on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love runs against UNLV in Logan on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

For all the knowledge gleaned from the Manning Passing Academy, Love doesn’t expect too much to change this season, as far as play on the field goes.

That, in large part, stems from offensive coordinator Mike Sanford’s attempts to keep this year’s offense as similar as possible to last year’s, when Love earned second-team All-Mountain West honors and set five school records — including 32 touchdown passes, 3,567 passing yards, seven 300-yard passing games, 234 points responsible for and being named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week five times.

“Offensively we are running the same things,” Love said. “Same offense. Some plays will change, just the way we read them, but for the most part it has stayed the same and that has helped a lot. Usually when new coaches come in you have to learn a new offense, new scheme, but knowing we are running the same plays has made it easy.”

Still, there will be some major differences in the Aggies’ attack, as Love will be without his top five pass catchers — production wise — from 2018, including Ron’quavion Tarver (709 yards receiving and eight touchdowns), Jalen Greene (689 yards, six TDs), Aaren Vaughns (581 yards, five TDs), Dax Raymond (345 yards, two TDs) and Darwin Thompson (351 yards, two TDs).

“It is a different group, that is for sure,” Love said. “Last year’s group didn’t have as much speed, they were more big bodies and I just tried to put the ball on them. This year, what will be different is that we have more speed out there. I am excited to get to work with them.”

Don’t expect Love to carry the ball any more this season either, despite an inexperienced offensive line taking over for what was a senior-heavy group last year.

“My game will be the same as last year, run it when I need to,” Love said. “That is just how our offense is, we like to get the ball out quick so I am not sitting back there in the pocket waiting to get hit. I don’t think there will be any running around. I think they will protect me just fine.”

The hope for Love, obviously, is to improve upon his 2018 campaign, and that has quickly become an expectation as the junior from Bakersfield, California has garnered his share of preseason accolades, including some Heisman Trophy buzz.

“It is crazy, just all the hype,” Love said. “I enjoy it. At the end of the day, it is all fun stuff and it is all on the side, though. The team’s goals come first, all that other stuff is on the side. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, what matters is what you do with the team.”

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In our opinion: Vote — local elections should have the highest turnout of all

Greg Walker puts on his “I Voted” sticker as voters cast their ballots at a Polling station at Trolley Square in Salt Lake city on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Three decades ago, House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously said all politics is local. That was true for his day. Politicians in Washington needed to remember that what mattered most for their constituents was what affected their own neighborhoods and the size of their personal tax obligations.

Today, however, it often seems as if all politics is national. Social media concerns itself almost exclusively with Washington and the never-ending tug of war between conservatives and liberals.

But in fact, your local government affects your life more directly and personally than anything that happens in Washington. Your energies are best spent in understanding and studying what happens at city hall, not in following the latest rumors or conspiracy theories concerning a distant federal government.

Today is Primary Election Day in many Utah cities — a day in which voters will whittle lists of candidates to two, who will vie for office in November’s general election. Election clerks have reported dismal interest so far when it comes to voters returning mail-in ballots in the cities that allow that method.

This is more than a shame. It is a dereliction of civic duty. If you live in a place with a primary election today, we strongly urge you to study the candidates and vote.

Municipal races tend to be nonpartisan. That is, candidates do not identify themselves by party affiliation. This is true even in Salt Lake City, where eight candidates are vying for mayor.

Cynics scoff at this as pretense. Political observers tend to know to which party candidates belong. But the truth is that local governments tend to be places where practical solutions trump ideology, and where a person’s feelings about zoning issues, high-density housing and budget priorities are more important than any traditional left-right litmus test.

Chances are good that you will drive somewhere today on a street your city maintains. You will rely on a local government to safely dispose of what you flush in your toilet. If you have an emergency, the police or fire services you require are paid for and managed by your local government.

You pay for these things through local taxes, but you also should know that your mayor or council representative is a phone call away, or perhaps lives near you. You have opportunities to influence their votes or to make sure they hear your concerns. And today, you have a real opportunity to decide who has power.

Utah’s primaries are attracting attention today for a different reason, as well. Two cities in Utah County — Payson and Vineyard — will be trying out ranked-choice voting. This is a system that allows voters to rank candidates according to preference. When the tally begins, last-place finishers will be eliminated, and the ballots that ranked them first will have their second-choice votes recorded — a process that continues until a requisite number of candidates passes a minimum threshold for victory.

Local governments are good places to test these kinds of voting innovations, as well. Depending on how the experiment is received today, ranked-choice voting may expand in Utah, or it may go away for good.

Given how much of everyday life is affected by your local government, this ought to be the election that gets the highest turnout of all. Don’t fall into the trap of judging what’s important by the level of volume it receives on social media.

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What USU quarterback Jordan Love took away from the Manning Passing Academy

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love throws a pass against against San Jose State during a game Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Logan, Utah.
Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love rolls out against Michigan State during game, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in East Lansing, Mich.
Al Goldis, FR11125 AP
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love throws the ball against New Mexico during game, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Logan, Utah.
Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal
Utah State quarterback Jordan Love runs against UNLV in Logan on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

LOGAN — Earlier this summer, 35 college football quarterbacks descended upon the small city of Thibodaux, Louisiana, a little over an hour’s drive west-southwest of New Orleans.

Among them were Alabama standout Tua Tagovailoa, Clemson’s national championship winning signal caller Trevor Lawrence, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Missouri’s Kelly Bryant and Notre Dame’s Ian Book.

Also in attendance: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.

What brought so many of college football’s elite to southern Louisiana, specifically to the campus of Nicholls State University, was the 24th edition of the Manning Passing Academy.

Owned and operated by the so-called “first family of football,” including Archie Manning and sons Peyton, Eli and Cooper, the Manning Passing Academy was created to address a perceived lack of “even the most basic fundamentals of throwing (and catching) a football” among high school football players.

“Going to the Manning Passing Academy was great. I learned some stuff from them, from Peyton and Eli, just how they train in the offseason with receivers and how they watch film. I am definitely going to add some of that stuff to my game.”

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love

And so every year the Mannings invite some of the nation’s finest from the professional and college ranks to teach the rising generation.

Love served as a counselor in the latest edition of the camp — which took place this June — as does every college football quarterback in attendance, and the experience was one he won’t soon forget.

“Going to the Manning Passing Academy was great,” Love said. “I learned some stuff from them, from Peyton and Eli, just how they train in the offseason with receivers and how they watch film. I am definitely going to add some of that stuff to my game.”

How the Mannings watch game film proved of particular interest to Love, whose focus this upcoming season is to improve his knowledge of the game of football.

“The main part I always need to improve on is knowledge of the game,” he said. “Knowledge of defenses, and what teams are doing. That comes from watching film, watching tape from last year to see what defenses did. To see how I can improve on every play. I’ve tried to focus on taking away negative plays, like interceptions, bad passes and bad reads, but that just comes from watching film.”

And so, when Peyton — who is known for his dedicated film study — detailed his process, Love was all ears.

“When we were out there we asked questions about how he watches film, and one thing I found interesting was, he watched every game of the team he was about to play,” said Love. “(Peyton) said he doesn’t ever want to be surprised by a blitz he hadn’t seen. I thought that was pretty interesting. Usually, we just watch two or three games to get the basis of what (the other team) is doing, watch cut ups and stuff like that. To watch every play of every game?

“It is hard to watch every play of every game, so we’ll see, but I’ve tried to do that with my game.”

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love runs against UNLV in Logan on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Utah State quarterback Jordan Love runs against UNLV in Logan on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

For all the knowledge gleaned from the Manning Passing Academy, Love doesn’t expect too much to change this season, as far as play on the field goes.

That, in large part, stems from offensive coordinator Mike Sanford’s attempts to keep this year’s offense as similar as possible to last year’s, when Love earned second-team All-Mountain West honors and set five school records — including 32 touchdown passes, 3,567 passing yards, seven 300-yard passing games, 234 points responsible for and being named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week five times.

“Offensively we are running the same things,” Love said. “Same offense. Some plays will change, just the way we read them, but for the most part it has stayed the same and that has helped a lot. Usually when new coaches come in you have to learn a new offense, new scheme, but knowing we are running the same plays has made it easy.”

Still, there will be some major differences in the Aggies’ attack, as Love will be without his top five pass catchers — production wise — from 2018, including Ron’quavion Tarver (709 yards receiving and eight touchdowns), Jalen Greene (689 yards, six TDs), Aaren Vaughns (581 yards, five TDs), Dax Raymond (345 yards, two TDs) and Darwin Thompson (351 yards, two TDs).

“It is a different group, that is for sure,” Love said. “Last year’s group didn’t have as much speed, they were more big bodies and I just tried to put the ball on them. This year, what will be different is that we have more speed out there. I am excited to get to work with them.”

Don’t expect Love to carry the ball any more this season either, despite an inexperienced offensive line taking over for what was a senior-heavy group last year.

“My game will be the same as last year, run it when I need to,” Love said. “That is just how our offense is, we like to get the ball out quick so I am not sitting back there in the pocket waiting to get hit. I don’t think there will be any running around. I think they will protect me just fine.”

The hope for Love, obviously, is to improve upon his 2018 campaign, and that has quickly become an expectation as the junior from Bakersfield, California has garnered his share of preseason accolades, including some Heisman Trophy buzz.

“It is crazy, just all the hype,” Love said. “I enjoy it. At the end of the day, it is all fun stuff and it is all on the side, though. The team’s goals come first, all that other stuff is on the side. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, what matters is what you do with the team.”

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John Williams’ ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ score will feature every iconic ‘Star Wars’ theme

In this June 9, 2016, file photo, composer John Williams poses on the red carpet at the 2016 AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Chris Pizzello, Invision

SALT LAKE CITY — “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is notable for concluding the Skywalker Saga, but it may also serve as an extensive greatest-hits compilation for composer John Williams.

ComicBook.com reports Williams’ brother, Don Williams, appeared at a “score study” celebrating the music of “Jurassic Park,” where he offered some hints on the upcoming “Star Wars” movie’s soundtrack. Don Williams claimed that while his brother is just starting work on “The Rise of Skywalker,” the score will include every notable “Star Wars” theme.

“We’ve done four days and we just scratched the surface. I think we’ve got something like 34 minutes in the canon at this point, but I can tell you that every theme that you ever heard is gonna be compiled into this last effort,” Don Williams said.

According to Vice, John Williams announced last year he will retire from scoring “Star Wars” after completing work on “The Rise of Skywalker.” Considering the composer is celebrated for crafting iconic themes for the franchise’s characters, it’s fitting his final “Star Wars” work will cobble together bits and pieces from each movie.

Don Williams also said each theme will be hidden within a larger score and will likely only appear for a few seconds.

“You gotta go look for them. You’ll find them, but you gotta go look for them,” he said. “You’ll be sitting there watching the film go by and, oh, there it is! There’s two bars of it and it grabs you and takes you away.”

IGN notes that Don Williams also mentioned including themes for “everyone,” including Darth Vader, Yoda and Princess Leia. He also mentioned “the Phantom,” which could refer to the iconic “Duel of the Fates” theme that plays over Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-Gon Jinn’s (Liam Neeson) Naboo battle with Darth Maul (Ray Park).

IGN also reports that Don Williams hinted at the movie’s length by saying his brother had “135 minutes worth of music to write.” In comparison, SlashFilm notes “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” soundtracks clock in at 77 minutes each, indicating “The Rise of Skywalker” could be a little longer than the preceding movies.

“Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” arrives in theaters on Dec. 20.

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‘Extreme Makeover’ show building home in Utah for refugee family that fled Congo

Chad Venable, Wadman Corporation project director, works on a home being built by HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere’s parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Brenton Fite, Wadman Corporation estimator, checks a measurement while working on a home being built by HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere’s parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Builders, contractors and volunteers work on a home being built by HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere’s parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Chad Venable, Wadman Corporation project director, saws wood while working on a home being built by HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere’s parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Kevin Jensen, subcontractor with The Vac Guy, carries supplies while working on a home being built by HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere’s parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Elder Dakota Walters, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, works with other volunteers on a home being built by HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere’s parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Volunteers, builders and contractors work on a home being built by HGTV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere’s parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – A Congolese family that fled for their lives and were resettled in Utah will soon land in a custom-built home in Ogden, thanks to “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” Ogden general contractor Wadman Corporation and an army of volunteers.

The Barobi family’s is one of two homes the HGTV show, along with community partners, is designing and building in Weber County this week.

Construction of another residence is underway in Washington Terrace for the Mayo family whose home was badly damaged when a small tornado touched down in their neighborhood in September 2016.

Builders, contractors and volunteers work on a home being built by HGTV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere's parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Builders, contractors and volunteers work on a home being built by HGTV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere's parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.

Both families are on vacation in an “undisclosed location” while the construction is underway, said designer Darren Keefe.

Crews have been working around the clock since late last week on both projects. The two homes are scheduled to be revealed Thursday and Saturday.

“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” designers Breegan Jane, Carrie Locklyn and Keefe said an episode on the Ogden area projects will air on HGTV in 2020 as one of 10 new episodes.

The show selects families in need who give back to their communities. Under normal circumstances, their existing homes are demolished and a new one is built in seven days.

In the Mayo family’s case, a tree crashed onto the roof of their 1950s era home as a result of the tornado. Water and sewer lines broke, causing lingering issues. Kelly Mayo took out a loan to fix the sewer line, but each time family members showered or did laundry, the basement flooded.

The Barobi family of six has been living in a rented, 1,000-square-foot duplex with three bedrooms and one bathroom. Their new home is under construction on a parcel donated by the city of Ogden at 517 E. 22nd Street.

Volunteers, builders and contractors work on a home being built by HGTV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere's parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Volunteers, builders and contractors work on a home being built by HGTV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere's parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.

The family, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was resettled to Salt Lake City by Catholic Community Services of Utah about five years ago but moved to Ogden because housing is more affordable in Weber County.

The designers said they are sensitive to the tight-knit family’s desire to to spend time together in shared spaces but also to accommodate their individual needs, particularly now that the girls are teenagers.

The family includes Anifah Barobi and her daughter, as well as Ashraf Kambere and his sisters and their brother, who is on a church mission. Anifa is Ashraf’s and his siblings’ aunt.

Ashraf was profiled by the Deseret News in 2018 for his extraordinary efforts to graduate from Utah International Charter School in South Salt Lake while living in Washington Terrace. Ashraf rode public transportation nearly five hours a day to and from school in order to complete his high school studies. He is now in college.

The designers said one of the greatest challenges of designing family’s new home has been their perspective on what they might need or want.

Their lifestyle has been “utilitarian” and “no frills,” Keefe said.

Elder Dakota Walters, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, works with other volunteers on a home being built by HGTV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere's parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Elder Dakota Walters, a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, works with other volunteers on a home being built by HGTV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," in Ogden on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. The house will be given to Anifah Barobi and her family, including her nephew Ashraf Kambere. Barobi, her daughter, Kambere, and his siblings were reunited at a refugee camp in Uganda after fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Kambere's parents were murdered. After years in the refugee camp, they were all relocated to Utah together.

“We’re really excited to reflect their personality in the home, which we know is not something they’ve had before,” he said.

When asked about their current apartment, they would say it’s “‘kind of too small.’ They’re extremely humble,” Keefe said.

“They’re extremely grateful to have what they have,” said Locklyn.

Jane said it was at times difficult to draw out from the family any preference about colors or design. “They’re such grateful, humble people, they didn’t want anything” specific, she said.

But the designers have conducted research on each family member to help inspire their design decisions. Ashraf, for instance, is working toward his goal of becoming an aerospace engineer. His sister Azida wants to become a lawyer.

While much of the major construction work is complete, plenty of volunteer jobs remain at both work sites through the makeover reveals.

“Regardless of your talents, all talents are needed,” said Jane.

To volunteer or make financial donations on behalf of the Barobi and Mayo families, visit wadman.com/extrememakeover.

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