"I want to bring some stability and just some good old common sense to government," Garwood says. "There is a lack of that in the Legislature."
He is one of dozens of candidates facing off in several Republican and Democratic county conventions statewide tomorrow as party delegates try to narrow the list of would-be politicians submitted to voters in November.
Garwood's success is no sure thing. He and fellow Republican Johnathan Aubrey, former chairman of Student Senate at Weber State University, will face off for the right to challenge four-term Democratic Utah House member LaWanna Shurtliff.
If he wins, Garwood would be leaving a position in history as the state's first black mayor. At the same time, he would earn a spot as the only sitting black state lawmaker.
Salt Lake City Democratic Rep. Duane Bourdeaux, who had that distinction for the past two years, did not run for re-election and resigned from his seat this week in order to allow Democratic delegates to pick his successor tomorrow. Just two Democrats are listed as candidates for that spot. With Evanne Clark saying she will drop out of the race, former Salt Lake City mayor's office staffer Jen Seelig would become a de facto incumbent in November, facing three Republicans vying for the seat.
Seelig's streamlined candidacy is unusual. Salt Lake County has the closest thing to a Democratic stronghold the minority party can claim - a pocket of consistently Democratic legislative seats in Salt Lake City, Holladay and Cottonwood. Democrats tend to flock to those races. This year, there are nine legislative races and one county council race where one or more Democrats will court delegates gathered at Highland High School.
Incumbency is no protection: Salt Lake City Sen. Scott McCoy, Magna Rep. Carl Duckworth, Salt Lake City Rep. Ralph Becker and West Valley City Rep. Janice Fisher all face challengers from within their own party. Salt Lake City Rep. Ross Romero will face two fellow Democrats in his efforts to take over retiring state Sen. Karen Hale's seat. And Jennifer Lee Jackson, a transgendered candidate who was a Sandy City Councilman, is running against former Rep. Trisha Beck for retiring Sandy GOP Sen. Al Mansell's seat.
Normally pragmatic, Utah Democrats try to avoid wasting time and money on the in-party fights that lead to primary elections. But party leaders obviously didn't succeed in discouraging everyone from running against hand-picked favorites.
"They're all great candidates," says Salt Lake County Democratic Party Chairwoman Megan Risbon. Still, she hopes delegates thin out the list of hopefuls. "I don't want anything to go to a primary."
In other counties, Republicans and Democrats alike will try to sidestep the same political quandary.
Davis County Republicans tomorrow will decide between incumbent Clearfield Rep. Paul Ray and two challengers, Craig Crippen and Michele Hoferitza. Former House Majority Leader Kevin Garn will try to beat out Jan Moore for retiring Layton Republican Rep. Stuart Adams' seat. And Bountiful Rep. Sheryl Allen, a moderate who opposes school vouchers, is being challenged by Mark Jacobs, a voucher supporter.
In Weber County, Ogden Democratic Rep. Neil Hansen will face Ron Atencio. Washington County Republicans will decide between St. George Rep. Steve Urquhart and Terry Williams. Weber County Republicans will pick between North Ogden Rep. Glenn Donnelson, an outspoken critic of undocumented immigration, and Frederick Oates.