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Love wins.

Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa will not seek a second term for his District 2 seat so that he can be with District 5 Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall.

LaMalfa's four-year term representing Glendale and Poplar Grove ends in January.

In a telephone interview Monday, LaMalfa said he plans to live in District 5. "I'm not running," he said, "because I want to be with Erin."

The pair had been linked romantically in a City Weekly story in November based on anonymous sources. Several weeks later, the two council members conceded in a Salt Lake Tribune interview that they were involved in a "close personal relationship."

Mendenhall, who is not up for re-election for two years, said she is looking forward to spending more time with LaMalfa.

"He's been incredibly productive [on the City Council]. He's the best advocate the west side has had in a long time," Mendenhall said. "It's bittersweet. But more sweet than bitter."

LaMalfa said he will continue to concentrate on city issues through the end of his term. "There is still a lot to accomplish," he said. "I'll keep my head in the game."

Among his accomplishments, LaMalfa said he is most proud of the council's work on sex assault. He led the council to insist that all sex-assault victims receive forensic exams, also known as rape kits.

"I will look back for the rest of my life," he said, "with pride at driving and making the system work better for victims of sex assault."

The District 2 councilman also listed as accomplishments his work at redistricting the Salt Lake City School Board to bring more representation to west-side students; the city's participation in helping develop community learning centers affiliated with schools; expanding YouthCity programs for west-side youngsters; and shoring up city parks and streets that were stressed after the recession.

LaMalfa was able to represent the disparate groups in District 2, said state Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, who represents Glendale.

"He was able to bridge the worlds between the older generation, minorities and new arrivals," she said. "He made sure all the voices were heard."

Beyond his championing of sex-assault investigations, "which he pushed to the forefront," she praised LaMalfa for taking time to visit schools in his district to talk to youngsters about civic responsibility.

"He was teaching young people how to get involved in the political process," she said.

At some future date, LaMalfa said, he hopes to step back into public life.

"I would like to return to public service someday. It suits me and I have grown a great deal," he said. "I highly recommend this type of service for anyone who has the time and space for it."

Former council member Van Turner has filed papers at City Hall that most likely signal a run for his old District 2 seat. The filing period for candidacy is June 1-8.

csmart@sltrib. com