The Mormon Influence in Salt Lake City
Clearly, Salt Lake City exists, and thrives today, because of the settling of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon influence began with the city’s founding, on July 24, 1847 (still recognized as a state holiday), is reflected in the physical layout of its streets, and continues in nearly every institution.
Under the church's guidance, Utah has evolved into a conservative state where the good of the church is placed above most other concerns. The Utah legislature is overwhelmingly Mormon, Republican, and conservative. In 2012, nearly 73% of the state voted for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and national Republican candidates regularly pull 70% of the state’s votes. It is estimated that 70% of Utah’s population belongs to the LDS faith, and the church controls or operates the number-one television and radio stations (KSL), the number-two newspaper (the Deseret News), a major university (Brigham Young), and the largest bank (Zions).
Salt Lake City, however, is closer to 50% Mormon and has had Democratic mayors and city-council majorities for several years. The presence of the University of Utah serves as a counterbalance to conservative BYU. The only other Democratic strongholds in the state are in Park City and Moab. Otherwise, virtually all communities have Republican and LDS leadership, which, among other things, often means closed doors for all sorts of services and stores on Sunday.