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West Valley City Journal

Three West Valley City Council members easily win reelection

Nov 19, 2019 05:19PM ● By Darrell Kirby

Don Christensen. (Photo courtesy West Valley City)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

West Valley City voters have expressed their satisfaction with the current makeup of the city council. 

They reelected three council members in November by comfortable margins: Tom Huynh in District 1, Karen Lang in District 3, and Don Christensen as an at-large representative. 

Tom Huynh

Huynh won a third four-year term on the city council by defeating Christiana Tavo with 68% percent of the votes cast. 

Huynh attributed his victory to adequately representing the diverse population of northeastern and most of eastern West Valley City. “I personally have a connection with voters in the district,” he said. 

Still, the councilman says residents are "frustrated" with public safety issues in his district, especially with the opening in November of a 300-bed men's homeless shelter, dubbed the "Men's Resource Center," just across the border in South Salt Lake. Huynh says he plans to monitor the facility “very closely” for any potential impacts spilling over into his district. Another worry of some residents in his area is the planned construction of a 430-unit apartment complex and nearly two dozen townhomes at the site of an old Kmart store at 4100 South and Redwood Road. They fear that crime and other problems could arise from such dense housing. 

Public works, such as keeping streets in good repair, is another matter he plans to address for his constituents. 

Huynh entering his third term on the city council continues a story of success that was hard to imagine when he fled Vietnam as a destitute 19 year old and settled in the United States a couple of years later. He earned a degree in Asian Studies from BYU and has been active in a variety of community organizations and causes locally and beyond. 

“From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the people in my district and the city,” he said. “They’re so nice to me.”

Karen Lang

Karen Lang was also easily reelected to the city council with nearly three-fourths of the ballots cast for her over challenger Kaletta Lynch. 

Lang feels it was a vote of confidence by voters in her district covering the northwestern and northcentral part of the city. “It was very reassuring that we’re on the right path,” she said as she enters her third term. 

Still, Lang says a concern of some of her constituents is the construction activity to extend Mountain View Corridor from 4100 South to State Route 201. As reported in the October issue of the West Valley City Journal, those who live closest to the highway project noted disturbances such as dust and noise, but Lang expects frustration to subside as work advances toward its scheduled completion in summer of 2021. 

Another issue is the availability of affordable housing not only in Lang's district but in the city as a whole. She laments that “affordable” is a relative term, since the cost of such homes is still “out of reach” for many residents. 

Lang hopes she and her colleagues on the city council and residents can continue what she calls the “small town” feel that West Valley City maintains where people know each other despite the city being the second most populous municipality in Utah with about 138,000 people. 

Don Christensen

While the margin of victory was narrower than that of his two colleagues, incumbent Don Christensen still handily outpaced Darrell Curtis 58% to 42% in his bid for a second consecutive term for one of two at-large seats on the city council. 

"It humbles me that they (voters) entrusted me to another term," Christensen said. Like fellow councilmember Lang, Christensen says his reelection is an indication that “maybe we’re doing things the right way.”

Christensen says it's a busy time for West Valley City with ongoing economic development projects including the early stages of construction of a technology park on Lake Park Boulevard near Stonebridge Golf Club. 

Another issue to address during his upcoming term is the completion of Mountain View Corridor and how it will impact traffic flow on city streets, especially 3500 South and 5600 West. "We'll need to be prepared to take care of that," Christensen said. 

Christensen previously served on the city council from 2009 to 2013, ran unsuccessfully for mayor, and was voted back to the council in 2015.  

Huynh, Lang, and Christensen will be sworn in to their new terms on Jan. 6 at city hall.