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It's not unprecedented, but the nine-member Salt Lake County Council will have two women next year.

That's as many as it's had in its 14 years of existence.

Voters returned Republican Aimee Winder Newton to the midvalley District 3 seat and welcomed back Democrat Jenny Wilson, electing her Tuesday to the six-year, at-large position being vacated by the retiring Democrat Randy Horiuchi.

"I'm glad to have another woman's voice on the council," said Newton, who joined an all-male board in January after she was selected by the county GOP to fill the unexpired term of David Wilde, who resigned for health reasons. "It's good to have a different perspective."

Wilson agreed.

"I'm happy to not be the only woman on the council," she said, recalling how she was for the first four years of her first council tenure (2005-11) before being joined for the last two by Democrat Jani Iwamoto, now headed to the Utah Senate.

"I never felt intimidated as one of nine or two of nine — and I won't again," Wilson said. "Aimee is a competent woman, and I think I am as well. We're not additionally empowered suddenly because of 'here we are; now we're two.' "

That's not to say the council shouldn't have more women, Newton and Wilson said, given the high percentage of females in the population and the workforce.

"Two is a low number," Newton said.

"We need more women in politics, in leadership positions in corporations," Wilson added. "We need more women in decision-making positions in every segment of society."

Having a female presence does impact the way boards function, said Morgan Lyon Cotti, an associate instructor at the University of Utah's Center for Public Policy and Administration.

"Being just two of nine, it's hard to have a big impact," she said. "But any voice is better than none. And research shows that even one woman on a board changes the decision-making process."

Wilson may have discovered that during her first council stint when, after several years of trying, she shepherded through a plan to extend health coverage to gay and lesbian partners of county employees.

Council Chairman Michael Jensen has worked with Wilson and Newton during his 14 years on the panel. He was impressed by Newton's rapid grasp of county issues when she came on board and expects Wilson to be a quick learner as well.

"It's going to be very good for the council to have two females from different parties with different perspectives and different life experiences. We didn't have that before because Jenny and Jani were from the same party," said Jensen, a Republican. "It's going to be interesting to see how they view the priorities of the council. It will bring value to the county by having those diverse voices."

Jensen also was pleased that Newton's election means the Republicans maintain their council majority. Maintaining that balance is vital, he said, even if the Republicans are generally satisfied with the performance of Democratic Mayor Ben McAdams.

"Keeping the 5-4 requires some give and take," said the councilman from Magna. "Being in the council's majority party, I like that obviously."

Newton and Wilson will be sworn in come January, along with re-elected Councilmen Arlyn Bradshaw and Steve DeBry. Twitter: @sltribmikeg