SALT LAKE CITY — Incumbent Democrat Sim Gill appeared headed to another term as district attorney as he held a 57 percent to 43 ahead of Republican challenger Nathan Evershed.
In the sheriff's race, Democrat Rosie Rivera led her challenger, Republican Justin Hoyal by 20 percentage points.
Gill expressed cautious optimism about his lead as votes continued to be counted.
“We are optimistic," Gill said. "The results are coming in and I am grateful to all of the supporters who worked so hard for this campaign and for our community.”
Evershed was holding on to hope that additional results would narrow the margin.
"We are grateful for the support we have had on this campaign," Evershed said. "We are anxiously waiting for more results to come in. We are blessed to live in a country where citizens can exercise their right to vote."
Rivera was confident her lead would hold up as further results came in.
"This has been great for Salt Lake County and law enforcement," Rivera said. "Now that the election is behind us I can redouble my efforts and the efforts of my team to increase public safety in Salt Lake County. I would like to thank the voters of Salt Lake County. I am honored to continue as the sheriff of Salt Lake County."
Hoyal called the race a humbling experience.
"The most rewarding part has been the support we have received," Hoyal said. "It's been a big night."
With Salt Lake County's top two law enforcement positions in front of voters, and both incumbents facing challengers from within their own agencies, all four worked to draw distinctions in their collective quest for voters' consideration.
In his re-election campaign, Democratic incumbent Gill highlighted his work on therapeutic justice reforms, such as mental health court, and said he has a longterm plan for the office to keep pace with population growth in Utah's largest county.
Evershed, a Republican and a homicide prosecutor in Gill's office, underscored what he called "a toxic environment" stemming from Gill's leadership which has led to a drain of talent in the office. Evershed had also called out Gill for the public corruption charges the D.A. filed against two former Republican Utah attorneys general, John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff, in 2014 that failed to result in convictions. Evershed claimed the loses eroded confidence in the county's top cop.
Like Gill and Evershed, Rivera and Hoyal work out of the same shop. And, the incumbent and challenger have career paths that lay out like mirror images of one another.
Both were the faces of the department for many years, acting as the sheriff's public information officer. Hoyal was chief deputy under former Sheriff Jim Winder. Rivera became the Unified Police Department's first female chief when she became head of the department's Riverton precinct while Winder was in office.
Hoyal was on the SWAT team. Rivera was the first female officer in the Metro Gang Unit. Hoyal started with the sheriff's office in 1996. Rivera started in 1993. Both have spent their entire careers with the department and risen through the ranks
Both candidates agree one of the biggest issues the next sheriff will face is the ongoing crisis over jail beds and a Salt Lake County Jail that is almost always at capacity.
One area on which the two diverge, in some respects, is the Unified Police Department's governing board and cities that are mulling whether to leave Unified and create their own departments.
Contributing: Annie Knox, Katie McKellar, Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Pat Reavy