- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis announced Monday that he will run for mayor of Salt Lake City this year.

He joins a race already crowded with Democratic candidates. Current Mayor Ralph Becker, City Council Chair Luke Garrott and former state Rep. Jackie Biskupski are also seeking the position.

No Republicans have yet formed candidate committees in the mayoral race.

Dabakis said he decided to run for mayor to make a larger impact than he can in the overwhelmingly Republican statehouse. His senate term ends in 2018.

If he is elected mayor, delegates from Dabakis’ district will meet to select a new senator, he said. Otherwise, he will continue to fill the statewide office.

Matt Lyon, a senior adviser for Becker’s campaign, said the mayor looks forward to the dynamic Dabakis will bring to the race. After same-sex marriage became legal in Utah, Becker officiated at the marriage of Dabakis, who is openly gay, and his partner, noted Lyon.

Biskupski, who is a lesbian, welcomed Dabakis to the race on Monday and said in a statement that the city should be proud to have two strong LGBT candidates for mayor.

She said she was the first openly gay person elected to public office in Utah when she ran for the Utah House of Representatives in 1998.

In a statement released on Monday, Garrott said Dabakis’ entry into the race reflects poorly on the current mayor.

“It’s a real statement on Ralph (Becker) that so many candidates are entering the field,” Garrott said, accusing the mayor of failing to address residents’ issues.

Lyon said he thinks Salt Lake City is run very well and that residents are supportive of Becker.

Salt Lake City Recorder Cindi Mansell said no candidates are official yet. They will have the opportunity to declare official candidacy during the first week of June.

A primary will be held on August 11 to narrow the field to two candidates for the November election. The candidates who earn the most votes in the primary will go on to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

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