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.

14 thoughts on “Salt Lake City Mayoral Race – Jenny Wilson

  1. Jenny is bright, capable and the right person to lead Salt Lake City. I’ve been impressed with her work on the County Council. She has shown her leadership and an ability to get things done. She’s been a progressive voice and is the most progressive candidate in the Mayor’s race. Jenny has my support for Mayor and I hope she is yours, Pete.

  2. Jenny has great leadership skills and vision for the future to be the next mayor of our capitol city. I really like her decision making processes – she is very deliberative – she takes input from her constituents, then takes a firm position and fights for her position. She is definitely my choice for our next mayor.

    She has demonstrated thru her work on the SL County Council that she shares my values as a true progressive in an environment where it is hard to be one!

  3. I know Jenny from our work together at the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and have followed her progress as a member of the Salt Lake County Council. I have always been impressed with Jenny’s leadership. She is incredibly bright, open, and honest. I am excited about her candidacy and fully support her.

  4. I agree with what you guys say, but, only to a certain point. I’d be more impressed if she had actually, you know, finished the term she’s already been elected for. Office hopping is tacky, no matter how smart, bright, open, and honest you are.

    You all talk about how well she listens to her constituents, but, her constituents voted her to serve a full term in County government, didn’t they? When I vote for someone, and I did vote for Councilwoman Wilson, it has never occurred to me to think about who would replace that person before the term was done.

    So, I agree with most of your personal points on her, but, I supported her candidacy for the County and I want to see her finish what she started.

  5. Jenny is definitely my choice for the next mayor of SLC. Jenny has a great blend of experience and vision. She understands the mechanics of government and has a strong vision of what this city can become. She motivates others to want to work with her.

    Within weeks of being elected to the County Council, Jenny took the lead in promoting domestic partner benefits for lgbt county employees. She didn’t need to be “lobbied and educated” about these issues – she just gets it. She has also demonstrated strong progressive credentials in the areas of ethics reform, mass transit and the environment. Go Jenny!

  6. I found Jenny’s response to the questions to be impressively UNinspiring. As I read her responses I kept finding myself rubbing my eyes and yawning. I am hoping the next mayor of SLC will be an impassioned leader with well thought out ideas that can deliver results.

    Jenny wrote, “The housing component interests me very much as an increasing in housing will provide…” I think this represents much of what she had to say, continually responding to others plans, gentlelly agreeing with ideas that have already gained popular support, NO VISION OF HER OWN. Speaking of, did she even answer the question about municipal fiber optics? Too many answers were “consider this, consider that” sort of no response responses.

    Can anyone point out to me where Jenny deliniated an idea and backed it up with a plan? Most of the comments made to this point are about personal experience or relationships with Jenny. I’m glad she has friends and I appriate her work with the county on issues like partner benefites benefits, but where is the vision, where is the leadership?

  7. Jenny has my support as the next mayor of Salt Lake City. She is progressive without being divisive, she is ethical without being self-righteous. She is a strong leader that has the ability to engage, motivate, and encourage positive change, manageable city growth, and active civil participation.

    Jenny will be a great mayor!

  8. I agree with many of Brandon’s comments above. I have followed Jenny closely on the campaign trail so far, and though I do not doubt her time on the council and her relationships in the city could prove valuable, from listening to her speak to others and respond to issues and questions, she does not appear to be articulate, visionary, or experienced enough for the difficult position of mayor. I disagree with the assertion that she is more progressive than many of the other candidates so far, but even if she truly is, I question whether she has the tools and background to implement her so called progressive agenda. I am sure that Jenny has, and probably will to continue to make great contributions to the city, but she is not ready to become mayor.

  9. Maryann, Jane, Heather, Lisa, and John …

    Who is writing your talking points here? The style and tone suggests, SUGGESTS collusion. They are all of a similar style and they all feel just like the others. How many of you guys are involved in her campaign? I’m pretty sure that Allcott is.

  10. Reading the responses that Ralph and Dave have given, I was bored. They both seemed to say pretty much the same thing in different ways. Obviously there are places where Dave and Ralph differ greatly, but I was bored with their itemized lists of generic ways to improve Salt Lake. I like Jenny’s response as she’s not so long winded and she sets herself clearly apart from the others in specific ways (“[Liquor laws] are archaic and mockery of adult agency and personal liberty”). While I agree that she was not as articulate in some of the other questions, deep down her politics more closely reflect my own. While I’m waiting for the debates to make an absolute decision, I support Jenny above the others thus far.

  11. Jenny’s campaign sent unsolicited email to me. I very much dislike spam and was disheartened to see a candidate I once supported resort to such tactics. After sending email to the campaign requesting information about why they might have chosen to make a decision to spam their supporters, my question was left unanswered.

    After that incident, I stopped supporting Jenny’s campaign. I can’t support the election of an official who is so callous about their communication methods and so unwilling to explain themselves.

  12. Pete, thanks again for asking the questions. Jenny Wilson, thanks for answering them here.

    I agree with Reid L Cliegg about the canned comments from campaign workers. And if Michael Place is telling the truth, I’m disturbed because I hate that almost as much as I disapprove of the recorded messages I get every election (and on my cell phone to make it that much more unpleasant).

    I can assure you that I’m not a campaign worker when I say Jenny Wilson was a complete hard *ss when it came to grading our work when she taught a class of mine up at the U, but I’m a better person for it. It forced me to dig in and produce some really good stuff. Thanks Jenny!

  13. Reid, since you addressed a question to me, let me respond. I don’t know Maryann, Jane, Lisa, or John – I’ve never met them. And I wrote my comment all by myself. The reason the comments might sound similar is because they’re all, well, supportive.

    I think the thing we have in common is that we all believe she is qualified for the position and, if elected, would serve our city well.

  14. I was thrilled to have Rocky as mayor. Even before I returned from NYC to Salt Lake, I watched with interest in his determination to get a beach head in a red state. I had the privilege of voting for him for his second term. Having said that, I don’t think we need another Rocky. We need someone to take us to the next stage of powerful, thoughtful, visionary and most of all effective leadership. I don’t know if Jenny is the right person, but I’m listening. I want someone who can validate the concerns of the LDS Church and its constituencies without being cowed by it. I want someone respectful, strong and above all in-love with this place as a Utahn, not as a Mormon, not as an anti-Mormon, not as a progressive even, just someone who honors the unique place we live and chooses to serve here.

    I’m listening to Jenny and the other candidates, and I hope the best person wins.

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