HB139 Meeting

The informal meeting held Thursday on HB139 was the most level-headed meeting I’ve had the pleasure to attend at the Capitol. Thank you to all who attended. Representative Daw acknowledged a number of problems with the bill, but I do not know how that changes the status. I doubt proponents will let this drop so easily, regardless of the number of reasoned and thoughtful statements that were made in the meeting.

The End of Free XMission Wireless

Since 2002, I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in building a free community wireless network. This initiative started with the Olympic games and has expanded to many other locations – gathering places, Salt Lake City Main Street, libraries, Liberty Park, Pioneer Park and an ambitious project in Ogden that will eventually cover most of the city. Unlike other many other municipal wireless projects, the installation and support of these systems has been done without tax dollars. The benefit to business, tourism, students and the public is clear and often spoken of to me.

This week, Representative Brad Daw wrote House Bill 139 which will effectively put an end to public XMission Free Wireless. Sourcing from a legislator who describes himself as being in favor of “limited government”, this bill introduces civil penalties if a minor is able to access pornography over public wireless Internet. With XMission wireless never earning one red cent in profit, the potential of a civil suit hanging over its operation immediately makes it not viable. The moment this bill is signed into law, I will shut down all XMission free wireless and cease expansion of this service.

Some may accuse me of packing up my “toys” and refusing to cooperate. When this plan surfaced last year, I had a long conversation with Representative Daw expressing my concerns of such legislation. In reading the text of this bill, I see those concerns were flatly ignored. XMission has provided free Internet filters longer than any other provider in the state, but I can never guarantee that a minor can not access pornography over an Internet connection. Nor do I believe government or business is the best parent of my children or anyone else’s.

While the corporatives at the Utah Legislature sharpen their knives to deal a death blow to the public infrastructure fiber-network UTOPIA to protect private interests, their cohorts effectively scribe business-burdensome legislation against XMission rolling wireless networks without public dollars. As the owner of the largest free public wireless Internet network in Utah, I see this bill as anti-XMission and anti-business to the core.

Governor Cal Rampton

Robin, Cal, & PeteWhen I was eight years old, I was walking in downtown Salt Lake City with my mother. As we crossed a street with my hand in hers, she stopped to talk to a man who I didn’t recognize. I don’t remember what the conversation was, just that it was complimentary. As we left the stranger, my mother turned to me and said, “Do you know who that was?” I shook my head. “That was the governor of Utah.”

Cal Rampton was my first contact with the political world. He remains an inspiration to me. In early 2005 when I was just finding my sea-legs as a candidate, I was introduced to a group of longtime Democrats who met regularly for lunch. Cal Rampton was among them and as they questioned me and told stories of their own, I found a well of courage to draw on. It was stunning to me to find out that Cal was a Bountiful boy too and that he had a friendship with my grandfather’s brother.

I had to leave early to catch a flight to a Western Caucus meeting in Montana. Cal shook my hand and told me, “Whatever I can do to help, please let me know.” Whether he realized it or not, Governor Rampton had already done enough. Along with my own efforts, I know that many other people have been inspired by Cal’s tenacity and the legacy he gave Utah.

Governor Calvin L. Rampton passed away last night, Sunday September 16th. I will remember him always.

Please Vote & List Split

If you are a Salt Lake City resident, then I urge you to exercise your right to vote tomorrow, Tuesday the 11th in the mayoral primary. My endorsement goes to Ralph Becker and I hope you will consider him too.

If you are not a Salt Lake City resident, I apologize for the recent emails on my mailing list in regards to the race here. I have been asked to setup a separate list by a group of people who want to stay in tune with technology issues and government. Declan McCullagh runs an excellent list for federal technology issues known as “Politech”, you can find archives and subscribe to it here:

Politechbot

However, due to the tingling in my nose, I know that Utah is preparing for a banner legislative year in the offense against technology. I have setup a similar list to Declan’s for Utah specific technology issues. You can subscribe here:

UTPolitech

I will reserve future emails on the “Ashdown List” for information in regards to any events or campaigns of my own.

Ralph Becker Response to Weller Questionnaire

Ralph Becker sent me his response to Tony Weller for reposting here. Tony has not shared any other responses with me, nor have I asked him to. If any campaign wants to send me their response, I will also put it on this blog.

Remember, you can vote in the primary NOW. You do not need to be a registered member of any party to vote in the primary! The only requirement is that you are a registered voter residing in Salt Lake City.

Response to Letter from Tony Weller

Thank you, Tony, for your letter about downtown Salt Lake City issues. You and your family have been stalwarts in making downtown Salt Lake City the place it should be—a place with thriving, interesting, local stores built by owners who invest, both economically and emotionally, in our City.

I have appreciated and enjoyed our discussions over the years. Your letter reflects insightful, thoughtful consideration of the challenges and opportunities for our downtown.

Downtown as The Gathering Place
An opening thought about downtown: With the City Creek Center as an enormous, mixed-use development (retail, office, residential, creekside amenities, and grocery shopping) and likely regional draw, the project-specific Downtown Rising plan, strong residential growth, and the draft Downtown Transportation Plan, Salt Lake City has an agenda that can give our city center the means to re-emerge as a true gathering place for our community and the region. I will bring committed, focused leadership to the mayor’s office. The next few years will require follow through, working together. I’ve presented my agenda for our neighborhood and downtown Salt Lake City in detail in one of my blueprints, which can be accessed at http://www.ralphbecker.com/neighborhoods.

Local Businesses
Locally owned businesses contribute more to the economy through the multiplier effect, and to our quality of life because of their charm, character, and responsiveness to local needs. Salt Lake City should pursue various ways to prevent putting local businesses at a disadvantage and should support our local entrepreneurs; many of the approaches are in place, but are not used in a disciplined way.

As you know, Tony, I share your views about local businesses. Twenty-two years ago, I started my own local business, Bear West, which is an environmental planning, policy development and consulting firm, and have felt the challenges from large, out-of-state businesses coming into town and using their size to an advantage, sometimes unfairly. I’ve personally been affected by the city’s failure to provide a level playing field in procurement actions. I know the problem manifests itself in other ways as well.

I am with you 100% on the principle that Salt Lake City should not be using taxpayer funds to lure businesses to town, particularly out-of-state businesses. It is the primary reason I have stated, in response to questions about Gateway, that the city made a mistake there. That development has sucked business from our downtown core, and the City directly subsidized it.

You discuss corporate welfare. That is bad government, and it is a result of all kinds of unfortunate influences stemming from special-interest politics that dominate legislative decision-making. As you know, I have fought this battle consistently at the Legislature—opposing sales tax exemptions for every business that seems to have a strong lobbying force, proposing a gift ban from lobbyists to legislators, and working hard to introduce many campaign finance and government ethics reforms. Salt Lake City has lost some great potential employers (for example, Amer Sports, the world’s largest sports equipment company, has recently made Ogden the home of the new U.S. headquarters for its Salomon, Atomic, and Suunto brands), because they just kept sweetening the pie with perks. I don’t claim to know the answer here; if we just say no to any help in attracting business to Salt Lake City, we will be at a competitive disadvantage in instances where there are clear benefits overall to our community. Salt Lake City also needs help in defining local vs. out-of-state and big vs. small businesses so we can properly tailor our efforts.

I strongly believe that Salt Lake City should first of all focus its investments on improvements that make the whole city better, thereby making Salt Lake City the place businesses want to locate because of our high quality of life: top-tier education, great transportation choices (especially transit), world-class cultural and entertainment venues, and a clean and accessible natural environment.

There is also, however, a practical reality in the competition for businesses deciding where to locate—businesses pit community against community and neighbor against neighbor in direct competition. And, we see suburban locational decisions having adverse effects on sprawl, air quality, traffic congestion, and loss of open space. Those costs are not presently paid by individual businesses. Too often, the incentives play a role, and Salt Lake City needs to judiciously participate.

I’d like to see our RDA become much more proactive in helping local businesses and in making decisions based on our planning objectives as a city. The city has too often used incentives at cross-purposes with our planning goals. Again, the City’s heavy subsidization of Gateway has cost our core downtown and local business substantial opportunities for growth and development. (Gateway offers attractive amenities and will serve Salt Lake City well in the long term, but it has created short-term problems.)

Tax credits are largely dictated by state and federal policies, and the City’s role is limited unless we just say we won’t let projects using these tools benefit from local assistance. But that may also hurt local businesses.

A primary RDA tool, tax-increment financing, focuses on underutilized properties, and tends to be used for larger projects that will increase property taxes over time. It is not a tool that often helps small or existing businesses. RDA loans are available for rehabilitation of existing structures, and I believe they serve as a useful tool for smaller businesses. (I think this tool was used for some of your remodeling when you added the Coffee Garden inside your bookstore.) We should make sure this tool continues to help local, smaller businesses. RDA property write-downs are another tool that can help get a project started. The city successfully used this practice to help get the mixed-use Marmalade development just west of the Capitol Building off the ground. The RDA grants can be targeted for smaller, local businesses, and I believe they have often been well-used for affordable housing projects as well as for attracting businesses to locate on Main Street.

Downtown Parking
Downtown parking needs to be reworked as part of the Downtown Transportation Plan so that it becomes understandable and easy. We’ve discussed this issue together before, and I am in basic agreement with your views. Implementation of the draft Downtown Transportation Master Plan would achieve your idea of a Downtown Parking Authority. We need consistency in parking, and I agree that the pre-pay lots are a serious problem. A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a fundraiser for Plan B Theater. We had to delay the start of the performance because folks were lined up at the pre-pay parking lot across the street. A Downtown Parking Authority would establish standards and consistency, and it would help us develop lots that are on the perimeter of downtown that provide easy access to a well-developed, downtown-area transit circulator system, thereby reducing traffic congestion and helping to make downtown safer and more friendly, inviting, and accessible for employees, businesspeople, tourists, shoppers, and residents. We also need to look at our zoning ordinances to limit the ability to use prime downtown space as surface parking and land banking.

Private Property
We have to do something about vacant storefronts and buildings on hold in our core downtown area. I’m glad to see construction begin at 222 South Main.

Simply creating a “blight” tax or a “vacant buildings” tax may not get us what we want because it might force tearing down buildings we want to save (like the Utah Theater). I’m not sure at this time what the best approach would be, but I would like to consult with other experts and property owners to see what we can do that makes sense and is part of a thoughtful, reasoned approach.

I am optimistic that downtown Salt Lake City is on the brink of returning to the vital, thriving center I remember when I moved here in the 1970s. Within five to 10 years, I’m confident downtown can become The Gathering Place, a place drawing people from the entire region and beyond into a flourishing, prosperous center for commerce, entertainment, retail, housing, and personal enrichment on many levels. The pieces and plans are falling into place. As the next mayor, using my concrete background as a long-time professional planner, my connections to the Utah Legislature and a wide variety of other individuals in all levels of business and government and throughout the community, I will work to carry out necessary actions and bring people together to build coalitions.

Tony, I sincerely and deeply appreciate all that you and your family have done over the years, contributing hard work, sacrifice, and dedication toward helping make our City such a livable community. This is a rough time for existing downtown merchants, but we have so many possibilities for a strong, bright future if we work together and take the time to plan wisely and follow through on those plans. Again, thank you for taking the time to formulate and write down some of your thoughts about the downtown area and its development. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you in the near future to achieve our potential as a Great American City.

Ralph Becker

Mayoral Questions by Tony Weller

Tony Weller is the current owner of downtown bookstore Sam Weller’s, which has been a fixture in Salt Lake City since 1929. You can’t think of Main Street business without thinking about the incredible work Tony and his family have done there. They have survived construction and watched as national competition has received subsidies to locate and relocate here. Tony is also a former president of the Downtown Merchant’s Association, which I am a proud member of.

Last weekend I went to buy a gift certificate from Weller’s and found that all their parking has been removed at the behest of Hamilton Partners’ building construction. The city even bagged the meters that weren’t inexplicably removed by a walkway placed outside an existing sidewalk. All this while much of neighboring 3rd South’s parking is being torn up for a beautification project. So my wife circled the block while I went in to make a purchase. The situation is so maddening that I wonder if anyone at the city building shops on Main Street anymore.

Tony wrote me asking my opinion of the mayoral candidates. After reading my blog entries, he wrote up three questions of his own and sent them off. I was struck by what he said so much that I asked for permission to repost them here. They reflect a long standing frustration downtown merchants have had with city government’s inability to take concrete action on Main Street.

If Tony receives responses to this letter he wants to share, I will be happy to repost them. As stated previously, I have endorsed Ralph Becker for mayor. You can vote in the primary NOW.

Dear Candidate for SLC Mayor:

I am fortunate to have to choose between many candidates who share many of my beliefs and in whom I have considerable trust. I know several of you, some better than others, and have made careful statements to two of you about my support for your candidacy. But I haven’t yet decided for whom I will cast my vote. That is why I am writing today.

The office of Mayor will encompass many duties and responsibilities but I have a few main concerns that will determine for whom I will vote. Since this is not a professional survey, I have made no attempt to hide my biases and beliefs. I hope, in addition to learning what you think, that I might even have a small affect on the future direction of our city.

Local Businesses

It seems that municipalities all over try to lure businesses to their communities Each time a business or development is lured in, usually with tax credits, RDA subsidies, infrastructural contributions, or some other form of tax funded subsidy, it is lauded as a great achievement. Such use of the community’s resources is justified by the rationale that it increases the overall wealth of the community. I have observed in our city how subsidies to Gateway hurt the interests of Main Street; subsidies to American Stores hurt Hamilton Partners intended pre-Olympic development; subsidies to Hermes Corp, contributed to the construction of a new Barnes and Noble that hurt my business. I can find numerous examples of corporate subsidies that have harmed the interests of local citizens for each one I might consider useful.

In the last decade, numerous surveys have been performed, measuring the effects of money spent in local versus non-local businesses. Every one (duh!) finds that the retention and recalculation rates are greater when money is spent in locally owned entities. Not only are local businesses better economically, but nation wide, the individuality and character of communities has been diminished by the colonizing practices of large corporations.

Though we seldom received it, I used to think that local businesses deserved equal treatment to out of state businesses. I no longer believe that. I now believe that local businesses deserve preferential treatment. Much in the same way that our Universities acknowledge that they owe better tuition rates to local citizens and charge higher rates to non-residents, it would benefit our city to take the same approach to businesses. After all, like the resident student, local businesses have already paid into the system and are more likely to stick around and contribute to it.

If you agree, please tell me how, as Mayor, you would address this problem and put an end to corporate welfare, capital flight and the homogenization of our city. If you disagree with me, please tell me how I am wrong.

Parking Downtown

This is not New York City. Nor is this San Francisco or Chicago. I don’t expect free parking downtown but Salt Lake citizens are accustomed to free parking. Really, the downtown area is about the only place in the city where people have no choice but to pay.

Once upon a time we had a simple validation system utilizing one uniform sticker that was worth two hours in any downtown lot. Gradually the system died. The first entities to reject the Park & Shop validation were Crossroads and the ZCMI malls (read: not team players) Next, there was a consolidation of parking interests and various parking operators, many run by non-local companies, rejected Park & Shop. The Downtown Alliance has made a great effort to address this aspect of parking with the very versatile Downtown Tokens, but since the tokens are not uniformly accepted and of uncertain and/or variable value in the context of parking lots, their use has been minimal. As long as free parking can be had within a few miles, downtown will continue to suffer by comparison. The city should take the upper hand and solve this once and for all. The establishment of a Salt Lake parking authority to manage lots, not for free, not for profit, but at cost, would reduce parking rates and would have the potential to establish consistent parking policies and rates.

Pre-pay lots are also a bane on our city. They are the least convenient, the least favorite for users and levy the highest penalties for staying overtime. Just like there are ordinances that dictate how my signs or windows must look, it would be in the best interest of the community if pre-pay parking lots were prohibited.

We must also consider parking for downtown workers. If the city is to make a serious effort to fix our parking problems once and for all, it can’t afford to neglect the workers who make the city run. Properties around the perimeter of the city should be made into parking facilities for affordable all day or monthly parking, supported by some kind of a mass transit circulator to get them to their final destinations. RDA money could be used – I’ve certainly seen enough of it thrown at destructive projects.

Private Property vs. Community Interests

My bookstore is on a street that was once very active. Now it is dominated by vacant buildings, many of which have been vacant for years. Occupied buildings are generally occupant owned or owned by middle class citizens. The vacant properties are owned by some of our community’s wealthiest citizens or companies. It is time for a discussion about the proper balance between private property rights and community rights. If what has gone on downtown had happened in a residential neighborhood, it would never have been tolerated. I suffer the consequences while people or companies richer than I connive to increase their wealth further. Vacant buildings create blight. Blight leads to crime and further blight.

In the past, RDA money or other financial tools of the city have been used to repair blight. No physician or mechanic would recommend that one run down ones body or car and then try to fix it at a later date but this is exactly how we have wasted the tax payers’ money in our city. In many cases, the recipients of our largesse have been directly responsible for the blight the city seeks to fix. Why should I contribute so that Howa can make something of his neglected property? Why should anyone have helped Boyer, American Stores or Hermes build anything?

Flip this coin over! If we have decided that it is a prudent use of the taxpayers’ money to repair blight, we ought to take some measures to prevent blight from occurring. For the damage certain property owners have wrought on our city, they ought to be charged. After all, it would take less to prevent blight than it takes to repair it once it has set in. I hope our next Mayor will recognize this situation for what it is and find a way to make those who damage our communities and neighborhoods foot the bills. Assessing a blight tax might go a ways toward ending the paradigm that permits such privileged neglect of our city. Unless this can be figured out, Main Street will continue to embarrass us. What a shame that we have spent so much to run TRAX up a mostly vacant street.

In addition to the blight, such commodification of property has priced many businesses right out of the city and contributed to the creeping sprawl at our communities’ edges where property is more affordable. If all urban property were being utilized, this might be unavoidable, but that is not the case. Clearly our market system has become a vehicle of inefficiency.

I know my ideas are extreme. The principles of the American Revolution were seen as extreme as were those behind women’s suffrage and the emancipation of slaves. Sometimes extreme action is required to avert disaster. If you’re on the wrong side of the highway, making gradual adjustments may not be enough. Please tell me what, as Mayor, you would do to address the blight we have today, /without/ rewarding those responsible for it and how you would prevent it for occurring in the future.

I’m sorry to take so much of your time. If you’ve got this far, I thank you. If pertinent answers exist in anything you’ve previously written or said, I will be content to receive or be directed to those. At very least, I want this information so that I can use my vote wisely. If your vision resembles mine, I’ll share my endorsement enthusiastically.

Earnestly yours,

Tony Weller

Just Passing Through for the Check

Teddy Roosevelt Kickin' It Old StyleI saw Barack Obama this last weekend in Park City. He is the fourth Democratic presidential candidate that I have seen here in Utah. I’ve met Richardson, Dodd, and Edwards before him. For all, it was a repeated stump speech and only Dodd had the temerity to actually open it up to questions. I was disappointed that I baffled him with my question regarding Los Alamos Labs producing fresh weapons-grade plutonium. Aren’t senators supposed to know these things?

Seeing these candidates up close has been like peering behind the wizard’s curtain of our Presidency. Although I think Obama is nearest to the greatness that once was present in the oval office with Kennedy, Eisenhower, or either Roosevelt, I was disappointed with how his first stop in Utah was handled. The roadside rally came about through the request of local Obama campaigners. Originally, his staff had planned him to simply stop at the invite-only $500/head fundraiser and then leave with the check. In spite of being organized overnight, I estimated that nearly 1000 people showed up to see him speak.

Would Obama have raised more money at an event in a park or hall where anyone could come? Yes. Would he have still been able to to do an elite VIP reception for big donors? Yes. Would he have avoided the accusation of cynical conservatives that he’s yet another limousine-liberal cherry picking in Park City? Most definitely.

At the YearlyKos convention, the question was asked of the Democratic candidates if they would visit all 50 states in their campaign. The traditional response to this is that it wastes time and resources of the candidate, yet these two guys showed more resourcefulness than any presidential candidate ever has. I have a hard time imagining Lincoln or FDR thinking more of media buys than actually hitting the road. American’s cynicism for the presidential elections has peaked, and yes Barack, we do want “change”. We also want to “change” how our President is elected, and so far it has been the same old game.

Ralph Becker for Mayor

I am endorsing Ralph Becker for mayor of Salt Lake City.

Based on my conversations with Ralph along with his response to my questionnaire, I believe he has the experience to benefit this city. I am impressed with his convictions for proper planning and zoning, along with his commitment to historic preservation. He understands what horse is driving the economic cart in Salt Lake City, small business. I believe he is committed to not only encouraging new local ownership, but he will also stay in touch with existing businesses to find out what is needed from the city.

Ralph’s time at the legislature is an important part of his ability to keep Utah’s capitol city an important component of decisions made there. Although I have not always agreed with some of the votes he has made in the past, I respect that he has his concerns in the right place. I know that other legislators, many outside of the Democratic party, hold Ralph Becker in high regard.

I know Representative Becker believes as I do that politics holds the potential to become more than a money game. His ethics at the Capitol have been admirable. I have been impressed not only with his actions, but his staff in this mayoral race so far.

I hope you take a close look and make him your choice for mayor too. Go Ralph go!

Salt Lake Mayoral Race – Keith Christensen

Keith submitted his response to my questionnaire after Jenny Wilson’s was posted last week. I did set a date for returned responses, but only Ralph Becker and Dave Buhler met the deadline. Keith was the only candidate who had the opportunity to read other candidate responses before submitting his own. Please keep this in mind when reading his answers. Keith Christensen’s website is located here.


1. What is your plan for action to rejuvenate Main Street and Downtown? This does not include the City Creek Center or plans by the LDS Church. How do you plan to encourage locally-owned business development?

Main Street has been hurt by poor planning in the past. From the widening of sidewalks on Main Street that eliminated parking, to poor estimations of the impact of TRAX on retailers, decisions made about historic Downtown have historic ramifications that can run decades into the future. The city needs leadership to make certain that Downtown and Main St. are more safe and livable in the future.

There are a few things we can do to ensure this:

Remember, Main St. is not one block. Your question points it out perfectly. People often talk about Main St. as if revitalizing the area is a one step process. City Creek fixes it all in some minds. It is not that simple. Main Street must be approached on a block by block basis. The potential uses of Main between South Temple and 100 South (City Creek Center) will certainly not be the same as Main between 200 and 300 South (Wells Fargo building, City Weekly Offices, Sam Weller’s, etc..) As mayor, I will focus our attention on each individual block of Main Street, ensuring appropriate redevelopment.

Improve transit options for Downtown.

  • TRAX (despite the detrimental impacts upon Main St. businesses) is wonderful for commuters and shoppers making their way downtown.
  • Bus routes that enhance public transportation use, especially for our future downtown residents.
  • Invest in a bicycle-friendly Downtown. It’s environmentally friendly, and also mitigates some parking and traffic issues.

Develop greater residential space. Though the City Creek Center and the redevelopment of the downtown area will bring greater residential components to the area, more can be done. As a city, we need to formulate a housing policy for the city, and focus a great amount of effort in an effective residential plan for downtown.

2. Pioneer Park has consistently been a target of Mayor Anderson for revival. Do you feel the park is in need of revival? If so, what would your plan be?

Columnist Paul Rolly recently commented that on a short stroll through the park, he was asked if he wanted to buy illegal drugs on three separate occasions. The park is in dire need of a full makeover. As a city, we cannot afford to band-aid problems that require significant investment to solve. Though I applaud some of the things the council has moved forward on in the past months, more must be done.

I support Mayor Anderson’s approach to Pioneer Park. I believe the time has come to give Pioneer Park a facelift, giving it a sense of place, making it a part of a livable, safe downtown. Right now, it is an area that simply has not fulfilled its potential.

Most importantly, a strong, continued undercover police presence at the park is essential. Drug dealers and buyers should be vigorously prosecuted. Besides enforcement, many other improvements must be made. We need to have a stage for concerts, lectures, and community events. We need a playground area where parents are not afraid to take their children. We can turn a portion of the park into an off-leash area for dog owners. We literally can mold Pioneer Park into a place that our City can be proud of. But band-aids and half-hearted efforts simply will not do the job. Pete, you know as well as I do, that in business, the only thing worse than spending too much money, is spending too little to get the job done.

3. Historic preservation has traditionally taken a backseat to economic and developer demand in Salt Lake City. Do you feel this is a proper course of action for a city? What are your own feelings on Salt Lake’s historic properties? What would you do to protect or rid the city of them? Do you believe the RDA (Redevelopment Agency) has been a success in Salt Lake City? Should a government entity like the RDA be able to claim “economic hardship” in order to demolish historic properties in Salt Lake City?

Our city has so much heritage and history to show. The Mormon Pioneers, and the many that followed, have given us a rich legacy. As Mayor, count on me to preserve our legacy and heritage, leading the search for workable solutions for the community, the developers, and owners. Too often, these situations are approached in a zero-sum fashion, but frequently, the situations can be resolved in a win-win for all involved. It simply takes leadership, communication, and effort to get the job done right.

Historic preservation, whether of parks, buildings or any other cultural asset matters to me as resident, not just as your mayor. I’ve helped preserve buildings for adaptive reuse for example when I was a councilman, such as finding ways to fund the historic Eccles-Browning Warehouse and Cornwall Buildings to make way for the Artspace Projects. Maintaining our built legacy is essential, and I will work with all concerned to strengthen ordinances that protect all of our cultural resources.

The Brooks Arcade situation was very unfortunate, as you and I discussed. Working as a community, we can make certain that our city is a modern marvel for both its impressive infrastructure, and its historic treasures.

4. Liberty Park has received a lot of city funding while the Tracy Aviary has been largely ignored by the city. Promises of shared funding have also not been kept. What will you do to balance the attention of city funding for public facilities? Do you think the city needs an aviary?

The community at large must speak out on this issue. The only pertinent reason for the city to have an aviary is for public interest. If we can establish that there is a level of interest high enough to maintain Tracy Aviary appropriately, then I will find a way to do so.

5. Please tell me how you balance compromise and conflict, diplomacy and leadership.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore M. Hesburgh

There would be no need for diplomacy without leadership and a vision. Over the course of my life, both as an attorney (practicing for a dozen years, recovering for 20), and now with my businesses, I have learned to deal with this daily challenge successfully. That success has largely been built upon the fact that I listen to those around me, take the best advice I can find, and move forward with that vision. In my role as Mayor, I would take the same approach. The mayor is no dictator. As the Olympics proved, there is no limit to what this city can accomplish when we work together.

6. What is your priority list for your attention? Do you believe national and international problems should ever override your local focus? How do you prioritize public interest verses private commercial concern? What comes first for you?

My focus is Salt Lake City. My top priorities are:

Education. Our city has the most diverse population in Utah. It is marvelous. But this remarkable diversity brings a unique set of challenges to our city. I welcome these challenges, and I am convinced our city is better for it. As we discussed, I have a plan to improve education in our city through a public-private mentoring partnership called “Read by 3”, focusing on literacy.. You can read more at www.keithformayor.com. In essence, we can do more for the future of our children through education than any other area. As education improves, so does opportunity. As mayor, I will work hard with our community to make certain that when opportunity knocks, our children are ready and waiting to answer!

Crime. Our city has benefited from crime reduction for the past few years. We can do more. As mayor, crime prevention will be a hallmark of my administration.

There is a direct correlation between dropout/graduation rates in America and drug crime. In Salt Lake City, 86% of our crime is drug related. Therefore, it behooves us to address education, as I have set forth above. This will have the net effect of improving education, while dropping crime rates. That is something we all can look forward to.

Mayor Anderson’s restorative justice program has been a success. I will continue and build upon that strong foundation.

Our police force is truly second to none. As mayor, I will make certain that our police have both the personnel, and the physical resources necessary to adequately perform their function.

Enhancing Quality of Life. Our environment, our economy, our transportation system. These are fundamental building blocks of a livable city. We can do much to improve our quality of life through making the right decisions. With proper leadership in these areas, our future is bright.

7. Do you believe municipal fiber-optics are an essential part of an advanced city infrastructure?

Yes, and our city council missed a great opportunity.

8. Are you in favor of Utah’s liquor laws? Do you think they are appropriate for all areas of Utah? What role does government play in moderating adult behavior?

Our liquor laws certainly could use some tweaking. Thought the Legislature sets liquor laws for the state, our city ordinance relating to restaurants and private clubs proximity to one another is archaic and is significantly negatively impacting our city. It is poorly constructed, and overly restrictive.

Mayor Anderson has attempted to engage the City Council on this issue, but it appears they are uninterested. This issue is important, however, and I will proactively work with the Council to institute appropriate changes to our ordinance.

9. How do you intend to bridge the gap between belief systems in Utah?

I believe there is far more that unites us than divides us. We all want a more safe, livable community. We all desire a vibrant downtown. We all would like the west side to blossom to its full potential. We all breathe easier when our air is cleaner. These concerns unite us, but only if we cast aside some of our more petty differences, and work as one.

As mayor, I recognize unity is not achieved by one person. It must be a community effort. That is why I have begun assembling a coalition of mayors along the Wasatch Front. I have met with more than 20 mayors, letting them know that, if elected, I want all the mayors in our Wasatch Front Community to join together in confronting the problems of our day. Education, Crime, and Environment are all important to our community. Together with this coalition, we can tackle the major issues, working to make the Wasatch Front the most livable community in America. It can be done!

10. What are your opinions of the Utah legislature, and how do you intend to make sure Utah’s capitol city has a working relationship with the legislature?

It has certainly been a “rocky road” to the legislature for some time now. I am prepared to engage the legislature in discussion about Salt Lake that have for too long, and for partisan reasons, been ignored.

Obviously, there is a distinct difference between the capitol city, and the majority of legislators on Capitol Hill. That need not be an obstacle, however. Diversity of thought should not be an impediment to productive discussion of the issues that matter to Salt Lake.

When it comes to the legislature, I will speak passionately on behalf of our city, while maintaining a relationship of trust and respect with legislators. Having spoken with many of them over the past few months, I can tell you that such trust and respect will be mutual, and beneficial for Salt Lake.

11. All the mayoral candidates appear to be in favor of “Buying Local” according to the Vest Pocket survey. Where is your website hosted? If you have a business website, where is that hosted?

That’s above my pay grade. My campaign technology expert told me to leave him alone and let him do his job. Usually, that’s good advice.

Salt Lake City Mayoral Race – Jenny Wilson

Jenny Wilson’s campaign website is located here.


1. What is your plan for action to rejuvenate Main Street and Downtown? This does not include the City Creek Center or plans by the LDS Church. How do you plan to encourage locally-owned business development?

I believe that the next decade is extremely critical and decisions made will make or break downtown. Currently, there are several initiatives and developments and a strong city Economic Development team and leadership from the Mayor’s office will be critical.

The City Creek Development will provide greater retail and housing. The housing component interests me very much as an increasing in housing will provide business and commercial opportunities in other sections of downtown and will provide greater flow on Main Street.

As we discussed over lunch, I believe that the block south of the new development is critical. I believe that the Utah Theatre would benefit the city as a film center and that the west side of that block (West Temple) can be redesigned and serve as delightful urban space. We need a passage through the block. I am currently holding conversations with property owners from a County perspective to begin piecing this together. Although funding resources have diminished, I am committed to continuing discussions about the development of an arts district and a new theatre in downtown Salt Lake City.

Another key downtown area that needs strong planning is the RDA west of the Gateway (Depot RDA). 200 South will become a key street within a year when the TRAX expansion to the intermodal is completed and Frontrunner arrives. This area has a lot of promise for eclectic business and interesting modern urban establishments.

I believe that the Salt Lake Chamber should be commended for their efforts on Downtown Rising, which is basically a conceptual master plan for downtown Salt Lake. It is a great beginning “visioning” process for what our city can be. As Mayor, I will look very closely at the ideas in the concept to determine both their need and feasibility, as well as solicit public input. Obviously not everything can be done immediately, but by carefully looking at the concept and using smart-growth and planning skills, we can incorporate much of this into a new downtown over several decades.

It is vitally important that we ensure the success of locally owned businesses and encourage their development. As part of my campaign, I have visited dozens of small, locally owned businesses, meeting with owners and managers and discussing the challenges they face. Not only did these visits help me realize the struggles that small businesses go through, but it also made me appreciate them even more. I have taken the things that I have learned through the visits, and under my administration, economic development would work more proactively to assist these small businesses. Each small business in our community is vital, as it has been proven that for every dollar spent locally, the economic revenue impact is equal to 7x that amount. The benefit and lasting impact of small businesses seems obvious to me, but then I see things such as the redevelopment of the Granite block in Sugarhouse and I am disheartened. This is an area that I have spent a lot of area thinking about and researching due to what has recently happened to Sugarhouse. How we allowed this to happen is disappointing to me and I think it is a significant failure of leadership.

2. Pioneer Park has consistently been a target of Mayor Anderson for revival. Do you feel the park is in need of revival? If so, what would your plan be?

Pioneer Park holds a significant amount of green space in Salt Lake City and will remain a great asset. There is no doubt that the park is in need of revival. What that looks like and how that is done, however, is still up for debate. The park holds a lot of potential, but also faces some serious challenges. I am supportive of the push to reinvest and revitalize Pioneer Park yet how much and when is an important question. Mayor Anderson has proposed a significant, ambitious overhaul of the park while the City Council has said that they prefer a smaller, more staged approach to improve Pioneer Park. Both plans have merit, but for either plan to work and to properly revitalize Pioneer Park, it is important to be honest and realistic about the current problems that the park faces. There are significant drug problems facing the park as well as transient and homeless issues, location challenges and even parking troubles. I feel that for any plan to be successful, we need to be realistic about these challenges and the revitalization efforts need to take them into account and properly address them.

3. Historic preservation has traditionally taken a backseat to economic and developer demand in Salt Lake City. Do you feel this is a proper course of action for a city? What are your own feelings on Salt Lake’s historic properties? What would you do to protect or rid the city of them? Do you believe the RDA (Redevelopment Agency) has been a success in Salt Lake City? Should a government entity like the RDA be able to claim “economic hardship” in order to demolish historic properties in Salt Lake City?

I believe that our historic properties are key to the character of our city. I believe and support strong community partnerships for the preservation of key buildings. Historic properties owned by Salt Lake City corporation need to be inventoried and treated carefully. I believe that the RDA is an important tool for Salt Lake City yet RDAs should not be “give aways” to developers and should be done to improve blighted areas and increase economic development. I am not familiar with the “economic hardship” claims to demolish historic properties (are you referring to the SROs?). Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

4. Liberty Park has received a lot of city funding while the Tracy Aviary has been largely ignored by the city. Promises of shared funding have also not been kept. What will you do to balance the attention of city funding for public facilities? Do you think the city needs an aviary?

I believe the aviary is a great asset to the city and improvements are necessary. I would expect that a city bond would be necessary to make dramatic improvements and would support taking this to the public. The city’s capital improvement fund likely would not provide enough resources for the scope and scale that is likely needed.

5. Please tell me how you balance compromise and conflict, diplomacy and leadership.

This balance is one of the challenges of being a governmental leader. There are often several different perspectives, numerous opinions, many options and nearly never a definitive right or wrong. This is the messy and sometimes difficult conditions in which public policy is crafted. I know this system; I have both studied and worked in it. I have a proven track record of being able to operate in it and get things accomplished.

How you balance this depends on the specific issue, but as a rule, I think compromise is always a better approach than conflict. But, as I have stated previously, I will also not be afraid to stand up for what I believe in and speak my mind. On several issues such as air quality and equality, for example, I may be unwilling to compromise and will not be afraid to do so if I feel strongly that doing so would weaken or limit the end result.

When it comes to diplomacy and leadership, it is less of a matter of either or and more of a choice of when and where. I will be a strong leader on the issues that I believe in and care deeply about. However, on other issues and when working with other elected officials and community leaders, a diplomatic approach may produce a better result. I am confident that I will be able to balance my leadership style to create compromise when needed, conflict, if appropriate and be a professional and diplomatic leader for Salt Lake City.

6. What is your priority list for your attention? Do you believe national and international problems should ever override your local focus? How do you prioritize public interest verses private commercial concern? What comes first for you?

I am running for Mayor of Salt Lake City. I want to focus on Salt Lake City and the needs of its residents. I want to work to make Salt Lake City a better place to live, work and play. I want to help the city grow to be a leader for the state, region and even country. We have so much untapped potential in this city. I feel that we are on the verge of a critical time in our city. The next mayor will be crucial in helping Salt Lake City enter a new era and become a great city that we all can be proud of.

I will be a Mayor that will focus on the affairs of the city. I want to be at my desk working on improving our city through new development, economic growth, life quality issues, the environment and enriching our diversity. National and international focus will never override my focus and obligations to Salt Lake City. But, as a leader, I will also not be afraid to speak my mind when appropriate on the issues that I care about and consider important for our time. This means that I will not spend my time organizing rallies on issues of national and international importance, but I will also not be afraid to attend a rally and speak my mind.

In local government these days, there is a great need and role for public-private ventures. It’s more and more difficult to separate private and public issues as they often overlap. As Mayor, however, I will be charged with doing what is best for Salt Lake City and its residents, looking at the costs and benefits both with short-term and long-term perspectives. I will have no problem doing what I think is best for this city and the good of the public will always overcome the desires of the private or commercial. That is a staple of good government and sound public policy and I have made it my career to work on these things.

As Mayor, my first and foremost priority will be the needs of our city. Without this focus in a Mayor, we will be unable to make the advances that we need to make the changes and improvements that our ripe on the horizon, as we work towards making Salt Lake City a better place to live, work and play.

7. Do you believe municipal fiber-optics are an essential part of an advanced city infrastructure?

It is the responsibility of government to provide basic civil and social services to its people. With the great strides we have made in technology, basic government services may one day include access to Wi-Fi and other technology services that are needed to not only perform business, but to simply function. As such, we have an obligation to both our future generations and our future technological development to wisely invest in technology when appropriate and where possible.

Advanced municipal fiber-optics are an essential part of an advanced city infrastructure. Buildings are no longer built without such critical components as networking capabilities, telephony systems, etc. We need to ensure that we are providing the same foundation for advanced technology to our residents, when and where possible. I believe in the need for fiber-optic technology and will always consider this as well as other new technology.

Salt Lake City had an option at converting to fiber-optics through the Utopia project. At the time, they choose not to participate, while other neighboring municipalities did. I think we can look to our neighboring cities that choose to participate in Utopia and look at their costs and gauge benefits from their participation.

8. Are you in favor of Utah’s liquor laws? Do you think they are appropriate for all areas of Utah? What role does government play in moderating adult behavior?

There is a great need for improvement in the current Utah liquor laws. They are archaic and mockery of adult agency and personal liberty. But, this argument is not going to help solve the problem. As you know, liquor laws are created on the state level and govern the entire state. There are only limited means in which the city has influence or control over liquor regulation. The majority of our legislature, which creates and influences our liquor laws, clearly feels differently than I do on liquor control and distribution. Because we would not see eye to eye on the fallacy and absurdity of our current liquor laws, it’s necessary to find an argument that would better resonate with them. For this reason, I would be willing to participate in conversations with other elected officials on the un-intended consequences of our liquor laws such as the image of the state, the effect on tourism dollars and the economic development repercussions that morality bills and laws have. It is instances like this and other opportunities for education that I feel that I can work with other elected officials on both sides of the aisle towards a workable compromise.

I do not think the government should be involved in legislating morality and should focus more on public safety. It seems to me on the instance of Utah liquor laws, the legislature has gone beyond public safety and stepped into morality. The Governor at one point in time said that he was willing to look at the current laws and indicated that he was willing to make some changes. I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of that process.

On-going civil discussions with the LDS church in this subject are key in making steps towards improvements.

9. How do you intend to bridge the gap between belief systems in Utah?

Salt Lake City is a diverse population. There are several ethnic cultures, races, languages, religions, political parties, sexualities, etc. throughout the city. But, we all have one thing in common–we share a city and there is much that unites us. The best place to start is through an honest, healthy dialogue that leads to better understanding and education.

I am hopeful that under my administration, there would less of a need to bridge the gap between belief systems in the city. For all the good that he has done, Mayor Anderson has also been a lightning rod and often acted like a wedge, dividing our communities, especially our LDS/non-LDS divide. As Mayor, I would stand up for what I believe in, but would not be as divisive as my predecessor has on personal issues such as religion and belief systems.

10. What are your opinions of the Utah legislature, and how do you intend to make sure Utah’s capitol city has a working relationship with the legislature?

Regardless of my opinion of the Utah State Legislature, I have been able to work collaboratively with them in the past and that would be no different if elected Mayor. Mayor Anderson has had a well-documented rocky relationship with several other elected members of state and local government. This combative-style of leadership is not my style. Working as a minority member of a legislative body in the Salt Lake County Council, I have had to work collaboratively with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come to come together in consensus. I have been able to do that and have been able to successfully create policy and get things done. This would not change if elected Mayor. I would continue to reach across party lines, build relationships, and collaboratively work towards solutions. I have been able to do so at the County and would be able to do so as Mayor.

11. All the mayoral candidates appear to be in favor of “Buying Local” according to the Vest Pocket survey. Where is your website hosted? If you have a business website, where is that hosted?

I am very much in favor of buying local and I applaud the success of the “Buying Local” campaign. They have brought together a collection of locally-based, small businesses in an effort to make the sum greater than the individual parts. It’s a great venture and I think there is even more potential in the current program. It is these innovative ideas that we need to rally behind to strengthen our local business economy and to make our city great.

My campaign website and online network are being generously hosted by your company, X-mission. I thank you for this generous contribution.