Snelgrove to run for mayor; Winder still 'exploring'
Politics • Councilman cites small-business experience, frugality.
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Richard Snelgrove believes his success as a small-business man and his extensive background in Republican politics make him the best candidate to be Salt Lake County's next mayor.

A potential rival for that job, West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder, said Monday he has not ruled out the possibility of a run despite the furor that arose after he admitted writing pro-West Valley City newspaper articles under a fake name for the Deseret News and other publications.

"It's an option we're still considering and exploring," Winder said, declining to elaborate.

Winder's problems could ease Snelgrove's pursuit of the county mayor's post being vacated by Democrat Peter Corroon, who will not seek a third term next November.

Snelgrove, a year into a six-year term as an at-large County Council member, expects to announce his candidacy formally next week. But his Facebook page gave away his plan, with the words "County Mayor 2012" appearing above his picture last week.

So far, his only Republican opponent is County Recorder Gary Ott.

Winder quit his public-relations job with The Summit Group last week after revelations he published 13 articles under the pseudonym Richard Burwash. Winder said he was trying to balance the negative press coming out of West Valley City after the Deseret News reduced civic coverage, but not crime news, because of a staff layoff.

Two Democrats are seeking to succeed Corroon — state Sens. Ross Romero and Ben McAdams.

"It's a long time between now and the March filing deadline, but I believe I have an excellent chance to capture the [Republican] nomination and win next November," Snelgrove said. "We'll be running hard, running to win."

He is not critical of the way the county has been run since it became a mayor-council form of government in 2001.

"Mayor Corroon and his team, and his predecessor Nancy Workman, have been able and competent managers," Snelgrove said. "We've attained and maintained a AAA bond rating. … But that's not to say there isn't room for improvement."

For instance, Snelgrove pointed to his current efforts to require Salt Lake County bond votes to be held in general-election years as evidence of the "thrifty and frugal" principles he espoused in a 22-year career as a businessman.

"A bond is a tax increase. It affects 100 percent of property owners," he said. "In fairness, it should only go on the ballot in general-election years when voter turnout and participation is highest. That gives the most transparency, accountability to the voters."

Snelgrove also advocated opening the county's processes for procuring equipment and services, as well as the disposal of surplus property, to auction sites. Having an open mind about all of the options available, he added, could help save the county money.

That kind of thinking has enabled Snelgrove to "start three separate companies, all successful," he said.

His primary business these days is Snelgrove Travel Centers Inc., which has an office in Layton and arranges cruises and ski vacations in Utah, Colorado, California and Wyoming through six websites.

While running a small business has not always been easy in the recessions of the past decade, Snelgrove said, "we've been able to eke out a profit by being able to adapt to shifting trends in the market, being thrifty and frugal. That's an important trait to bring to the county mayor's race."

A former state and Salt Lake County GOP chairman, he said county voters tend to elect officials of the party not in control of the White House. That should work in his favor — even more so if Mitt Romney, Salt Lake City's former Olympic organizer and a Mormon, is atop the Republican presidential ticket.

"I can't think of anything more significant," Snelgrove said, "to motivating the masses to turn out."

mikeg@sltrib.comTwitter: @sltribmike —

Costly race

Republican Richard Snelgrove expects a successful campaign to become Salt Lake County mayor to cost $650,000 to $750,000. Outgoing Mayor Peter Corroon raised more than $600,000 for his 2008 re-election campaign.