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It's Election Day

It's Election Day

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Today is Election Day and state leaders hope Utahns will head to the polls.

Voter turnout during off-year elections traditionally is not high, which is why every ballot cast Tuesday will be important. Lt. Gov. Greg Bell says if history repeats itself, only 10 percent of registered voters will cast a ballot Tuesday, so one vote can have a tremendous impact.

"Some cities are going to have some very highly contested elections and so I expect the turnout will be better there," Bell says.

"We want a better turnout, but we also want people to study the issues and the candidates," he adds.

Outgoing Salt Lake City councilman Eric Jergensen says, "There's always a worry that if we don't have a good voter turnout then a minority, a small minority, can make a big difference in terms of the quality of life in our city, in our neighborhoods."

Mayoral races

At least three mayors are fighting to keep their offices.

* In Sandy, Mayor Tom Dolan is chasing a fifth term against Dave Perry. * In Murray, Mayor Dan Snarr is pursuing a fourth term while facing Councilwoman Krista Dunn. * In St. George, Ed Baca is up against Mayor Daniel McArthur, who is seeking his fifth term.

In West Valley City, Provo, and West Jordan voters will be electing new mayors because the incumbents are retiring.

There also is a heated election in Stockton, where some of the town's residents cast their ballots prior to the controversy over Mayor Dan Rydalch. Many residents have stated they want to re-vote after learning Rydalch fired a police officer for giving Rydalch's son a ticket, but it appears the ballots will stand.

There are several other high profile races around the state. School district bonds and a proposition to build a new Public Safety Building in Salt Lake City also are featured in Tuesday's election.

Prop. 1

Proposition 1-- Salt Lake City's $125 million Public Safety Building bond-- has been a big focus because a tax increase is part of the equation. The bond would be used to build a new police-fire-emergency operations center complex. If it passes, people who own a home valued at $260,000 would pay an extra $75 a year.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says he knows it's a tough time to ask people to pay more, but he says the complex is greatly needed. "If there wasn't such a critical need, there's no way I would put this on the ballot this year or encourage the city council to do it," he says.

According to city leaders, both the police and fire departments are beyond the point of making do with their current buildings. Each department is dealing with bad plumbing, troublesome electrical systems, and overcrowding.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank says, "It's something that will not go away. It only with time gets worse. We continue to grow the size of the police department."

City officials have spent nearly $22,000 on the Proposition 1 campaign to educate people about the old and new proposed facility.

In 2007, voters rejected a $175 million bond for a public safety headquarters by less than 300 votes. If it passes this year, the plan calls for the new buildings to be built across the street from Library Square.

The group Citizens for Better Leadership and Planning say the building and its location on 300 East need more study.

The group is calling for the elimination of the 300 East location from consideration for the new Public Safety compound, a the new and transparent selection process, consideration of other alternate sites already identified, and a more cost-effective solution for an Emergency Operations Center that places less tax burden on the average Salt Lake resident and small business.

School bonds

The vote in Granite and Davis school districts will not require a tax increase since they replace bonds that are expiring.

Granite is asking for $256 million, without a tax hike, to air-condition 51 schools, rebuild Granger High and Olympus High plus two elementary schools, and to build a new grade school in West Valley City. The district also wants to build new elementary and junior high schools on the district's northwest side.

The Davis School District hopes to pass a $250 million bond, without a tax hike, to pay for a new junior high in west Kaysville, three new elementary schools, and a school for medically fragile students. The money also would help rebuild Wasatch Elementary, finish 18 classrooms at South Weber Elementary, add 12 classrooms at Millcreek Junior High, 10 at Woods Cross High, and six more at Layton High School.

The Duchesne School District is asking for $49 million to replace two high schools, build a new elementary in Roosevelt and refurbish grade schools. Taxpayers would pay an estimated $168 per year if the bond passes, maybe more. It will depend on whether or not home values fall, as some experts have predicted.

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