Midvale Candidate Hopes To Become Utah's First Transgender Mayor

Mar 26, 2017

Midvale’s mayor of 22 years JoAnn Seghini is expected to retire this year, paving the way for a new leader to oversee the growing Salt Lake suburb — and at least one candidate is throwing her name in the ring early.  

Sophia Hawes-Tingey launched her campaign over the weekend, giving her pitch to a small group of supporters at a Mexican restaurant inside a strip mall in Midvale.

Top priorities, she said, are revitalizing the city’s main street and creating an arts district.

"The city of Midvale has a burgeoning arts community, but it's kind of like it's a secret out here where you don't know it, unless you know it," she said. "So I will work really hard with various organizations to see if we can bring some arts communities to establish a presence here."

Hawes-Tingey is no political novice. She ran unsuccessfully for state representative in 2014 and Midvale City Council a year later. She currently serves as vice-chair of the community council.

Her candidacy is also historic in that she’s the first transgender candidate to run for a mayoral seat in Utah, a fact that she says is incidental to her identity but nonetheless important.

“One of the powers of the mayor is [making] an appointment,” said Hawes-Tingey. “So appointing good people that cover some of the intersectionalities that we’re missing is one of the vital things the mayor can do.”

Sandi Anaya is a Midvale resident who attended the campaign launch and supported Hawes-Tingey when she ran for City Council in 2015. She says she would like to see some new blood in Midvale government.

“We’re really in a changing phase with all the commercial that’s happening in the River Bottom area,” she said. “We need somebody who’s really ready to work, and I think it’s going to take a real go-getter.”

Although it’s still early — candidates can't officially declare until June — Hawes-Tingey said she wants to start fundraising and getting volunteers to be in a good position for the primary later this summer. The general election is in November.