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West Valley City Journal

Karen Lang says experience will serve her well as city’s new mayor

Dec 16, 2021 11:29AM ● By Darrell Kirby

Karen Lang will become West Valley City mayor Jan. 4, 2022. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

West Valley City has the first female mayor in its 41-year history. 

City councilwoman Karen Lang was elected in November to lead the city she has called home for 37 years. She defeated fellow city council member Steve Buhler with 58.5% of the vote to become the ninth mayor of Utah’s second most-populous city. She will succeed Ron Bigelow, who did not seek a third term.  

“It’s sort of weird, but it’s going to be fun,” Lang said of the somewhat surreal feeling of winning the mayorship. 

Lang believes her city council experience serving District 3 in the northwestern/north-central part of the city since 2012 will help her represent the entire city of 140,000 people. “I think having that 10 years behind me is going to make it a lot easier and more impactful.” She lost a previous bid for mayor to incumbent Bigelow in 2017.   

Lang plans to meet with the city council to exchange ideas on the future course of the city. “I have some ideas myself of what direction we want to move,” she said, citing continued  expansion of the city’s economic development efforts as one such initiative. 

Prior to the primary election in August, Lang laid out other goals if elected mayor. 

“Key issues I would address as mayor are a responsible budget, managed land use, public safety, maintenance of city roads and city properties,” Lang said. “We have little land available for development. We need to plan carefully for the best use of vacant land and be mindful to plan for redevelopment of older properties.” 

The new mayor and her husband, Brian, are longtime owners of Oakbridge Greenhouse. “Luckily for me, I’ve got a great spouse and great help at the greenhouse that will free me up (to tend to her mayoral duties),” Lang said. “I have some good support around me that will enable me to do my job very easily.”   

In January, the mayor’s office in four of Utah’s six largest cities will be occupied by women: Salt Lake City (Erin Mendenhall, elected in 2019), West Valley City, Provo (Michelle Kaufusi, elected last month to a second term), and Sandy (Monica Zoltanski, elected in November as the first female mayor after serving on the city council). 

“Boots to the ground and get working,” Lang said, looking toward her swearing in Jan. 4, 2022. 

On that date, Buhler will end three terms as the District 2 councilmember, opting to run for mayor rather than seek reelection to the city council.