American Fork Elections

Learn BEFORE you vote. (Not an official website of American Fork City.)

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The Happiest American Fork News I’ve Heard in a While

I’ve been concerned for years that there is too little significant journalism dedicated to American Fork anymore, since the demise of the printed American Fork Citizen several years ago. Sure, there’s coverage of high school sports scores and anything striking or scandalous that news editors somewhere think will interest a broader audience, but that’s about it.

This isn’t good for good government (the local version), and it’s a missed opportunity to build a sense of community in a rapidly growing and diversifying city.

My friend and neighbor Danny Crivello did well to keep reporting some news at for years after the (Provo) Daily Herald swallowed our local newspaper, but one guy in a different, demanding career can only do so much for so long. (What he did, he did well, and the community owes him thanks.)

A few weeks ago, outgoing three-term American Fork City Councilor Rob Shelton, who has expressed similar concerns in the past, gave me a sneak, confidential peek at a new project he’s taking on to stay out of (in?) trouble when his city council term ends.

Rob Shelton - American Fork Citizen
Rob Shelton

It’s not confidential anymore, and I can finally say this: I am delighted. Thrilled. Practically ecstatic. And grateful, come to think of it.

He has acquired from Danny Crivello and is making it a going journalistic concern. He’s pulled in some experienced journalists (meet at least some of the team here), and the first new stories went live there last week, on Friday, October 13. (I gather he’s not superstitious.)

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City Council Debate TL;DR

Editor’s note:

American Fork’s five city council candidates debated various issues for an hour and a half Monday evening before an audience of about 70 at the American Fork Senior Center. Audio from the event will appear here later this week, and commentary and analysis should be posted here early next week. Watch for the event’s host and sponsor, the American Fork Chamber of Commerce, to post video. Meanwhile, frequent contributor John Mulholland has a different, quicker report.

Three four-year seats are available. Election Day is late this year, November 21.

Clark Taylor 2023 - American Fork City Council

Clark Taylor
I love American Fork
Pushing for fiber
Tax increase went 45% roads, 55% public safety
We finished Art Dye through the PARC tax

Ernie John
Water guy
I won’t kick the can down the road
Fiber is a utility now
Wells dropping a foot a year
The tax increase was needed

tim holley

Tim Holley
Marine and in IT Sales
We are building a city
Some places with extreme weather have good roads
We need to have bike / pedestrian trails

Ken Sumsion

Ken Sumsion
Opposes fiber, it is a money pit
Opposes tax increases
Thinks the people should decide both on the ballot
Was in the state legislature

Jeff Shorter

Jeff Shorter
Previously on City Council
Against taxes and fiber
Keep all single family zoning
Weather will always make roads bad

John Mulholland lives in American Fork, Utah. His reports on candidate interviews have appeared at since 2017. His writing on Utah politics has appeared at Utah Politico Hub.

Featured image credit: AI-generated, not a drawing of the candidates or the actual event. (DALL·E with prompt “pencil and watercolor drawing of five white men in suits sitting behind a rectangular folding table in a large room; the two men on the left are bald.”)

Weaponizing Democracy: Petition and Referendum

A common complaint among candidates, when local elections roll around, is that the city council should send — or should have sent — the big questions to the voters, especially the big expenditures. We’ve adopted a Latin word for that vote: referendum.

The referendum process can be an important check by the people on misguided or dilatory local and state legislative bodies. There is no equivalent at the national level; some have advocated such a thing, but I never have. As firmly as I declare the people’s sovereignty in our governments, we’ve seen enough mischief achieved by referendum in states and municipalities that I have never warmed to the idea of a national referendum.

But back to earth. American Fork, to be precise. (Meanwhile, in Pleasant Grove, they’re collecting signatures through today to put a recent tax increase to a public vote.)

Cities are required by law to put certain bond issues to the voters. This happens when the bonds will have to be repaid from general funds, meaning tax revenues, which could mean a tax increase.

Most other actions, including bond issues to be repaid with other revenues, do not require the voters’ direct approval — but opponents can force a referendum by gathering enough signatures on a petition.

There’s a bit of a contradiction evident when someone running to be our elected representative wants to pull decisions away from our elected representatives and subject them to a popular vote. But I have a larger concern.

I’m sorry if this sounds cynical. If you’re tempted to believe that these referendum-touting candidates are animated by an abundance of democratic spirit and an overarching respect for the people’s collective wisdom, resist that. The motive is nearly always more political.

Here’s the short explanation. Well, short-ish.

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Important Date: October 16 – City Council Debate

Voters in American Fork who like to be informed will want to be at the American Fork Senior Center Monday evening, October 16, for a City Council Debate sponsored by the American Fork Chamber of Commerce.

As usual, the event has two parts: an informal meet-and-greet from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m., and a debate from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

What to Expect

In case you’ve never attended one of these events, I’ll give you an idea of what to expect. I haven’t consulted with the Chamber of Commerce about this specific event, but they tend to be very much alike.

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AF Primary Election Turnout 2023

Now that Utah County has posted detailed election results by precinct (a CSV file), we can see turnout for American Fork specifically.

County-wide turnout was 21.2%. (I’m rounding throughout.)

In American Fork we did slightly better: 22.5%

In my subjective view, that’s not bad for a primary election that was oddly, even awkwardly, timed and in which, to be frank, most candidates didn’t appear to do a lot to put their names and thoughts in front of the voters. The general election is oddly timed too, November 21, just before Thanksgiving, but I’m confident the voters will hear plenty from the remaining candidates by then.

Drilling down a little further, and excluding two odd little precincts with ten registered voters combined, turnout in the various precincts varied from to 11.1% to 29.3%. If you want to study the numbers and a precinct map, those are at the Utah County website.

(I think it’s all supposed to be available with numbers in a map here, but as of this writing, it isn’t working in my browser.)

If you’re not registered to vote at your current address but you’d like to be, here’s another link to the Utah County website for voter registration.

We’ll be back fairly regularly here with more information and analysis of candidates and the issues, between now and — good grief — the day before the day before Thanksgiving.

Statement by Elizabeth Gray

American Fork City Council candidate Elizabeth Gray, who was eliminated in the September 5 primary, released this statement today and her campaign’s Facebook page and also provided it to

Elizabeth Gray Statement

Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Supporters,

As the dust settles on the primary elections, I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you who believed in me and supported my campaign for American Fork City Council. Your encouragement, volunteer hours, and kind words have meant the world to me.

I must also address a serious issue that arose in the days leading up to the election. Unfortunately, there were multiple targeted threats made against me and personal attacks from individuals on a national scale, which led to the archiving of this page for safety reasons. I want to assure everyone that these threats have been forwarded to the wonderful American Fork Police Department, who are handling the situation with the utmost professionalism.

During this trying time, I was deeply touched by the outpouring of support from the community, including my fellow candidates and city officials. It’s a testament to the strength and unity of American Fork, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this community.

While the journey was challenging, it was also incredibly rewarding. I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many amazing residents and hearing your hopes and concerns for our beloved city. Your voices have inspired me, and I promise to work diligently to make American Fork a better place for us all.

Once again, thank you for your unwavering support and for standing by me through thick and thin. Together, we will build a brighter future for American Fork.

With deepest gratitude,

Elizabeth Gray

AF Election Update: Austin Duke withdraws, endorses Taylor, John, Holley

Today American Fork City Council candidate Austin Duke submitted the required notarized affidavit at the City Recorder’s office to withdraw his name from the November general election ballot.

He cited “unforeseen personal and family considerations.”

He finished fifth among nine candidates in the September 5 primary election, which advanced six candidates for three available seats on the council. In withdrawing he endorsed three of the candidates who finished ahead of him: Clark Taylor, Ernie John, and Tim Holley. These, he wrote, “are committed to what I believe is good and wise local government.”

Here is the statement he posted on social media and sent to

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2023 American Fork Primary Results

Is it just me, or has Election Day lost most of its sizzle, what with the meaningful vote count continuing for days thereafter — technically, weeks — and some doubt as to many of the results for a while? I used to jump in to report election results on Election Night, but now, well, it’s Friday, as you see. Here are some primary results.

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