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John Daley ReportingIn Sandy a tough fight over big box development led to not one, but two tight races. Two close votes there, both for mayor and a high-profile referendum fight.
For weeks Sandy residents have been deluged with campaign phone calls, polling, and mailers and more mailers. Most of the stack came from a pro-Wal-mart, Lowes group -- a pro-development group which wanted to rezone a gravel pit there to allow big boxes.
Though no official number is available, Wal-mart and company are estimated to have spent a million dollars or more on Referendum #1. Facing off on the other side was a grassroots group of volunteers with a lot less money.
One of the group's members, Gary Forbush, gave incumbent Mayor Tom Dolan a scare, but in the end the Wal-mart project and the Mayor won, both by a 53% to 47% margin.
LaVarr Webb, Political Columnist, Deseret Morning News: "The pro-development campaign was very well-funded and very well-managed and they knew what they were doing. The opposition was much more of a local grassroots effort. The fact that the opposition did as well as they did shows they had some real support there. That there is lots of concern about the development."
Rachael Stone, Volunteer, "Save Our Communities": "The message that I would want to send to our city council and mayor is, look you can't just do whatever you want now. We got a watchdog system going on and you guys better still keep us in mind."
Matt Bradley, Volunteer, "Save Our Communities": "We put up a hell of a fight. We as citizens with all of our scant resources went up against Wal-Mart with all of their money and we did what we were able to do; we should be extremely proud of."
In another race there an opponent of the project, Steve Smith beat realtor Max Burdick, 54% to 45%.