Newly-appointed council member Sophie Rice.
Sophie Rice was sworn in and officially took her seat on the West Jordan City Council on April 8. She was selected by the council from a field of five candidates who applied to finish the unexpired term of Justin Stoker, who resigned on March 4 after being hired as West Jordan’s Deputy Director of Public Works.
Rice, who has been serving as a member of the city’s Planning Commission (from which she has resigned since her council appointment), will serve as the District 4 representative for the remainder of the year. She would need to seek election to the seat during this fall’s municipal elections, as her term expires on Jan. 4, 2016.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of confidence and support everyone has given me,” she said. “Many residents of District 4 have called to express their excitement—they know I’m anxious to represent them and convey what they want—and the staff has been very open and welcoming.”
All five applicants were interviewed as part of a city council meeting on March 25, after which each councilmember cast a vote by secret ballot for their choice. Rice and Alan Anderson, president and CEO of ChamberWest, the Chamber of Commerce for West Valley, Taylorsville and Kearns, were the top two vote-getters. At that point, Councilmember Ben Southworth made a motion that Rice be appointed, a motion seconded by Councilmember Judy Hansen. The council voted in favor of the motion 4-2, with Mayor Kim Rolfe and Councilmember Jeff Haaga casting “no” votes.
Rice said she’s “always liked being involved in government—knowing what’s going on in my community.” She said the thoughts of running for office seemed scary at first, but “we need good people to be involved. I felt it was my civic duty to run this time.”
She was one of nine candidates who ran for mayor in 2013, the year Rolfe was elected. Though she was not elected, the experience “propelled me onto some committees in the city. I think it gave me some name recognition.”
Her district, on the southwest side of West Jordan, has a lot of open space.
“So a big concern for all of us who live there is managing growth,” she said. “Traffic is a concern, and we want to make sure planning for growth doesn’t have a negative impact on our neighborhoods. My goal is to voice the concerns of those in my district to the rest of the council and staff, to be sure our voices are heard.”
“It’s easy to live in your own little bubble and do nothing at times,” she added, “but people should get involved. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and I have.”