Embattled Salt Lake City Council member to resign after DUI arrest

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

A member of the Salt Lake City Council is stepping down from her role after she was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol earlier this month.

Salt Lake City Councilwoman Amy Fowler announced Tuesday she is resigning from office, effective July 3. She explained in a statement that she wants her district to be "fully represented" over the next month, while the City Council finalizes its 2024 fiscal year budget. The council has until June 30 to finalize a budget before the upcoming fiscal year.

"Thank you to the residents of District 7 for twice electing me to serve. It has been an honor," she added.

Fowler was arrested on May 3. Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden told KSL.com earlier this month that UHP troopers initially responded to a report of a hit-and-run crash on I-15 near 4800 South in Murray shortly after 9 a.m. A witness provided troopers with the license plate number of a vehicle that left the scene.

Troopers were able to track down the information of the vehicle with that plate number and called the listed driver, who agreed to pull over to provide a statement. Troopers caught up with the driver, identified as Fowler, in Springville, and reported that they could smell alcohol on her breath, according to a police booking affidavit.

Fowler was arrested after she failed field sobriety tests and submitted a breath test that showed a blood alcohol level of 0.111, more than twice the legal limit in Utah. She was charged with a class B misdemeanor in Springville Justice Court four days after the incident.

Court records show that a pretrial conference will be held in the case on June 8. No charges had been filed in relation to the crash in Murray as of Tuesday.

First elected in 2017 and reelected in 2021, Fowler apologized for the incident on May 9, but she also said she planned to remain in office. She has been absent from City Council meetings since she started a self-imposed suspension of activities at that time. She also stepped down as the vice chairwoman of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City.

"I recognize that this incident may have caused a lack of trust and I will work hard to rebuild that trust," she said at the time. "It has sincerely been an eye-opening experience for me, and it's truly made me reflect on my relationship with alcohol and the decisions that I have made."

The City Council in a statement late Tuesday expressed support for Fowler's decision to resign.

"We know this was a difficult decision and we trust it was made with the best interests of District 7 constituents and her personal well-being at heart. We thank Amy for her years of dedicated service to our city and wish her the best in her future endeavors," council members said in the joint statement.

The City Council pointed to Fowler's "notable accomplishments" since she took office including: work to help marginalized and unsheltered people access vital resources; advocacy for investments in affordable housing initiatives; help to provide menstrual products at all city facilities; and advocacy to expand the Salt Lake City Fire Department's Medical Response Team, which the council members say saved the city "millions of dollars." The council also said Fowler helped the city recover from the pandemic.

As for the soon-to-be-vacant District 7 seat, which includes the city's Sugar House neighborhood, the council will have until Aug. 2 to appoint a replacement after Fowler leaves office on July 3, according to a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Council. The replacement will fill the seat for a few months before an election is held in November to determine who will complete the final two years of Fowler's current term.

The city's second, fourth and sixth council districts were already up for an election later this year, as is the mayor's seat.