Interviews With Salt Lake City Mayoral Candidates

Tue, July 30th, 2019

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Season: 
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Episode: 
400

The race for Salt Lake City's mayor is one of the biggest stories of the summer. After Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced she would not seek a second term, candidates lined up to fill the city's top spot. As Salt Lake City's mayoral primary nears, we are taking a closer look at the candidates vying to run Utah's capital city.

Jim Dabakis

Jason Perry:

Joining us first in the studio is Jim Dabakis, former state senator who has also served as the Democratic Party Chair and helped co-found the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah. Thanks for being with us today.

Jim Dabakis:

It's always a thrill to be at The Hinckley.

Jason Perry:

Let's start with your vision as a mayor. As mayor of Salt Lake City, what is your number one priority?

Jim Dabakis:

It is to bring everybody together. You know, wherever we are on homelessness, on clean air, on affordable housing, the missing ingredient for Salt Lake City, there's 203,000 blue people with a big suburban red and in very deep red in the rural areas. We can't do anything without the help of the governor, hopefully the new governor to be, with the legislative leaders with the legislature, working with the county, the mayor has also get along with the city council. And so, if we're going to be serious about any of those things, we've got to understand that means rolling up our sleeves, and getting on the phone, and having a relationship with the people that make things happen because Salt Lake City just can't clean our air on our own.

Jason Perry:

So how are you going to do that? That's relationship with lots of stakeholders, including the legislature.

Jim Dabakis:

Well look, my last moments in the legislature, President Niederhauser, the president of the Senate, called me in and said, "Dabakis, will you come down to the caucus today?" And I said, "You sure you want me in this sacred Republican caucus where everything is decided?" And he said, "Yeah, come down." So I got down there and they said, "We're not ready for you yet. Get out, get out. We're talking about secret stuff." So I got in there and Nieder[hauser] and the rest of the Republican senators said, "We haven't really invited anybody in to say this before, but going to miss you. We've liked working with you. You kept us laughing. You've never insulted any of us personally. Sometimes you said things that we felt like needed to be said, but given our political position we couldn't say and we've appreciated having you here and we're going to miss you."

Jim Dabakis:

Then Old [David] Hinkins, my buddy from the eastern part of the state said "Yeah, Dabakis, I never hated it because you're gay. I just hated you because you're a crazy socialist." And somebody else said "You're always welcome in our homes," and one of the other senators said, "Yeah, that's not true of a lot of us."

I believe that I've been out there trying to be that voice for progressive people, not just in Salt Lake but all over this state, but I did it in a way that I hope I didn't make enemies along the way. You know, there've been a couple but all in all, I understand the power of working together collaboratively and I'm going to pick up my mobile phone and I know Spencer Cox's number or Greg Hughes's number or Thomas Wright's number or I don't have Huntsman's number anymore because I don't have the numbers in Russian, but I'm telling you, that's the very first thing that needs to happen. We've got to work together or we're not going to solve the problems of Salt Lake.

Jason Perry:

What do you think distinguishes you from these other candidates that are running for this office?

Jim Dabakis:

I think what people don't know about me is up until eight years ago, my life was business. That's what I did. I created a business. I had a payroll, I was up in the middle of the night wondering, "How am I going to make this in a few nights?" And I know how to read a spreadsheet. The primary requisite for being mayor is it's a $330 million a year business with almost 3,000 employees. So you can have great position papers, but first and foremost, you got to know business. You've got to know how to get rid of people, and hire people, and motivate people, and have had that responsibility over people's lives. So everybody understands that kind of bloviating Senator Dabakis that stood up and said what needed to be said. I haven't told the story about my pre-life.

Jason Perry:

Well, when you start combining your pre-life with what you're going to bring to this office, the policies of Salt Lake City tend to have an impact throughout the entire state.

Jim Dabakis:

Not enough.

Jason Perry:

Well, how are you going to make it enough? What are you going to do? What's the vision there?

Jim Dabakis:

The vision is the bold, bright ideas which I have, which are on my website, it's going to be a lot of conversations with our new governor, and with Senator Adams, and with others. You know, the good things that I affected the state over the six years I was in the Senate didn't particularly have the Dabakis name on them and they came in the corner with my arms around the shoulders of those with power saying, "You know, wouldn't this be a good idea?" Ronald Reagan said it and I get some criticism for saying it. He said, and I have on my desk a quote that says, "If you don't care about who gets the credit, it's amazing what you can do." I believe that and I think it's time Salt Lake City stood up for its values, but also recognize if we're going to solve our problems, we need to be part of the broader community.

Jason Perry:

Thank you so much for being with us for today and the insightful answers. Candidate for Salt Lake City Mayor, Jim Dabakis.

Jim Dabakis:

I love The Hinckley institute. Thanks for having me. Bye.


Luz Escamilla

Jason Perry:

We now welcome Senator Luz Escamilla who has represented District One and the Utah legislature for over a decade now. She currently serves as Vice-President of Community Development at Zions Bank. Thanks for being with us.

Luz Escamilla:

It's always a pleasure. Thank you.

Jason Perry:

So as mayor, in terms of priorities, what will be number one for you?

Luz Escamilla:

Number one will be sustainability. We need to make sure that we address all of the issues that we're talking about, Jason, from the angle of sustainability. We want a sustainable Salt Lake City. We're growing fast, the economy is strong and it's going to get stronger. But obviously, then that pushes pricing. Affordable housing, when we talk about housing. The homelessness situation, we still have to tackle that and it's number one on day one because we will have a bed shortage. I mean, we're talking about that. But it's how do we address air quality, our relationship with the state, everything from the angle of sustainability. We want families to be sustainable. When we talk about equity on transportation, let's make it sustainable. Everything will be from the angle of sustainability under my administration.

Jason Perry:

So you mentioned the legislature a little bit and so policies like that will require some cooperation with the state. How do you anticipate you're going to work with them to hit the sustainability model?

Luz Escamilla:

I'm very excited of that piece. I think my biggest strength is my relationship with the state legislature and the governor's office. We can't do this alone. We are the capital city, Salt Lake City is the capital city, and I see this little blue dot in the middle of the Red Sea. It doesn't mean it's wrong, it just means we have different ideas and different, you know, vision sometimes, but we can certainly move forward in collaboration and cooperation with them.

Luz Escamilla:

There needs to be an ability to recognize that when the city, the capital city of the state succeeds, everyone succeeds. My job is to make sure my current colleagues in the legislature see that vision and I'm excited to be able to do that. I have 11 years doing that with my legislation and 50 plus bills have passed with, you know, me being the sponsor of those bills where I can now bring the whole vision of Salt Lake City and the ability of saying, "Look, we can collaborate. We can bring the world to Utah and have them be welcome in Salt Lake City. We have what it takes. We have great higher education institutions such as the University of Utah, my alma mater is here, but also great technology businesses. We have great people, a diverse community. We need to be all inclusive, but we need to work in collaboration with a state.

Luz Escamilla:

There's no way we can do this alone as a city. We don't have the taxpayer's space. I mean, we welcome almost twice as many people in Salt Lake City every day and it's really difficult to maintain that infrastructure if we don't have the collaboration of the state. And I think I'm the one that's ready to do that now. I mean, even before the election happens.

Jason Perry:

We'll, let's talk about that experience for just a moment because anytime you have a race with several candidates in it, you want to talk about what differentiates you from them. And maybe tie into this a little bit what you just said, but what is that key differentiator?

Luz Escamilla:

For me it is the experience, the record, and the reputation. That's what we're asking every voter in Salt Lake City. Look at our experience. Experience matters. We have a master's degree in public administration, a business degree from the University of Utah. I've worked with business, I've been in the private sector. I've also worked for the executive branch with you under the consummate administration. Great experience to get that feel of what it means to be in the executive branch. But I've also done nonprofit work. I've served in many, many capacities, but more than anything I'm a bridge builder. That's what makes me different. I know that I don't have all the answers. I know how to listen and I'm very, very excited for the opportunity to work with everyone to make Salt Lake City better and then the whole state better.

Jason Perry:

Talk about that vision for a second for Salt Lake City. A lot of the policies that you wouldn't enact as a mayor have an impact not just on the city but on the rest of the state. So give us a little bit of vision for where Salt Lake goes next.

Luz Escamilla:

For me, I'm a very strong believer in having families, and children, and women and everyone be okay in order to succeed. So when we talk about sustainability, how are we doing to address poverty, inequality, disparity? Early childhood education is critical. People want to hear a mayor that will help the school board, that we make sure that education is strong. I understand they have their own governing elected body, but we can work with them. It's about being a leader and a visionary and with this idea of sustainability, then everything we do from housing and making sure that those policies are in collaboration with the state. The state is working very hard in affordable housing. We can do certainly more. I think that's for me, what's the vision is sustainable Salt Lake City, addressing everything we do through that angle and that lens, and making sure we're working in collaboration with a state, the county, and everybody else, the business community included.

Jason Perry:

How about the relationship with the council that you will need?

Luz Escamilla:

We need to work with them. It has to be everyone together with one vision and one message.

Jason Perry:

Very good. Thank you for your answers to these questions and for being with us today. That is Senator Luz Escamilla, candidate for Salt Lake City mayor.

Luz Escamilla:

Thank you.


David Garbett

Jason Perry:

Our next candidate is David Garbett, former staff attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance who also served as the executive director of the Pioneer Park Coalition. He currently works as a special project manager for Garbett Homes. David, great to have you with us today. Not a lot of time so we're going to jump right in, okay? As mayor, what will your number one policy priority be for Salt Lake City?

David Garbett:

Jason, thanks for having me here today. My number one policy priority is air quality, air quality, air quality. We've got to do something about the pollution that we deal with here in the Salt Lake Valley.

Jason Perry:

Well, it's a great policy priority? What are some of your thoughts about how to achieve that?

David Garbett:

Well, I think the most important role for Salt Lake City is to be a leader and provide a vision not just for the city, but for our air shed, about how we get to clean air because, you know, Salt Lake City is one-fifth of the Valley's population we're a smaller fraction of the population on the Wasatch Front. A mayor of Salt Lake City can't through ordinance, can't through regulatory decree fix this problem. What we have to do is be the convener of all of the parties that are entrusted and actually put together that plan for how we get to clean air in the Salt Lake Valley.

Jason Perry:

How is this issue of the clean air impacting the city? Particularly economic developments was something you've talked about.

David Garbett:

On all of those fronts, you know, one thing that I think is astounding as I was talking to a resident just yesterday, a doctor who had done research on the effect of air pollution on miscarriages. His research found that a woman in the Salt Lake Valley who is pregnant just going through one inversion events, so just this small episode of pollution, her likelihood of a miscarriage increases more than if she were to use cocaine. Well, think about that for a minute. Living in the Salt Lake Valley, if you're pregnant during an inversion event means that you're more likely to miscarry than cocaine.

Jason Perry:

Interesting.

David Garbett:

That is ridiculous. But we know that this affects us in all aspects of life, not just in health, but makes our economy poor because we lose productivity for people that are here. We know that this is something that keeps a lot of companies away that would otherwise locate here. Something that we've got to address.

Jason Perry:

All right, very good. Take a moment and talk about you individually. When you have several candidates in a race, the opportunity to differentiate yourself as important. Tell us what distinguishes you from other people that we will see on the ballot.

David Garbett:

So I'm new to politics. I'm a fresh face. I think that that's actually a positive thing that I come in with a different universe of what I think is possible. I come in with a different level of enthusiasm to tackle these problems and I'm not green in the sense of the issues that I'm talking about. Air quality: worked for 10 years as an attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, specifically on issues like air quality. I've spent time at the front lines of homelessness and neighborhood safety when I was the director of the Pioneer Park Coalition. So again, I've been on the ground working on these issues my entire career. That's the sort of passion that I want to bring to city hall.

Jason Perry:

All right, very good. One last question. The policies that we implement in Salt Lake City have a tremendous impact on the rest of the state. Give us your vision going forward of Salt Lake City and its place in the state.

David Garbett:

My campaign slogan is a city to match its mountains. We know that we live in one of the most incredible locations in the world and I think that there are a few things that hold the city back. Things like air quality, how we're responding to homelessness, what's happening with the price of housing. I want to tackle these because I really do think that our city has the potential to be world-class. We need to address some of these issues.

David Garbett:

That's part of my vision, helping us to do that, and so many of our big problems, Jason, are more than just the city solving in isolation, being an island. We've got to work with others and you know, one of the things that I think is exciting coming up in the future is the opportunity to work with the legislature to put together a very strong bid for the Winter Olympics and we saw the last time we did this, it led to some significant infrastructure changes in our community, put us on the world stage. I think we can do that again and, in a similar fashion, also address some of these big needs that we have in Salt Lake City.

Jason Perry:

That relationship with the legislature is so important. How are you going to go about kind of reestablishing some of those connections to help the city?

David Garbett:

Well, on the front end, I don't want to pretend like there isn't going to be some friction between the legislature and Salt Lake City. You know, oftentimes we're coming to issues with a different political vision and that's naturally going to create tension. I think it would be wrong if I said I'll get rid of that completely. You know, other than that, I think it's really about engagement, never giving up, working with the legislature. Look, I honestly believe that legislators, that the governor comes to issues with the idea that they want what is best for the state and I want what's best as well. Now, we might have differences on what that looks like, but continuing to engage, I'm optimistic that we can often solve problems together, that we can figure things out. Coming from an entity that I sometimes will say is even less popular than the mayor of Salt Lake City, coming from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, I know that you got to be up there. You have to work with people.

Jason Perry:

Very good. Thank you for answering these questions. We appreciate the time. This is David Garbett answering very important questions. Thank you.

David Garbett:

Jason, thank you.


Richard Goldberger

Jason Perry:

Joining us now in the studio is Richard Goldberger, former editor of the Salt Flat News and founder of the FNA Federated News. So glad to have you here with us, Richard, today. We don't have a lot of time so we're going to jump right in, okay? As mayor, what will be your number one policy priority?

Richard Goldberger:

I will declare an emergency, a citywide emergency dealing with what we call the homeless. I refer to these people as American refugees.

Jason Perry:

What will the emergency do and what will the impact be?

Richard Goldberger:

Well, my objective is to have no illegal camping. No illegal camping or a defecating in the city. I will establish an emergency triage, a reception campus, not a center, a campus, and I will have tremendous outreach. Social work, sanitation. You get the drift, about a team of four people. Security. And these people will go out and will basically encourage these folks, "You can't camp," and we'll have a hotline too, it will be 24 hours a day. And I'll also have a triage facility just for getting people assistance at the Library Square. We have an emergency here and we can't play games about it. It's a public health emergency when we have people defecating, living on the streets. This is a third, fourth world condition. We cannot have this in Utah. We cannot have this in the United States. In Los Angeles, we have 59,000 people living on the streets and in San Francisco, you can get maps to where people are defecating on the streets.

Richard Goldberger:

This is crazy. We can't have this happen here and it's getting worse in Salt Lake. It's not getting better, contrary to popular belief. And the three new centers, we call these centers, are not going to be adequate. They're going to do some good, yes, but they're spread out and it's going to cause problems in the neighborhoods, obviously, because of the behavior of these refugees. Refugee behavior is not conducive to quality living. Let's make it very clear.

Jason Perry:

All right. In terms of the other candidates, when you have several running for a race, as we get ready for the primary, differentiating yourself is something that's just really important. Take a moment and tell us what distinguishes you from the other candidates running for office?

Richard Goldberger:

Well, that's an easy question. I'm a “common sense-crat.” My slogan is government by objectives. Service to others equals service to self. I am laser, underscore the word laser, specific in what I want to do. The other candidates, they're good people but they talk in platitudes and generalities. Mr. Garbett wants to move a power plant and move a refinery. That ain't going to happen. I mean, the only thing movement he can do would be a movement of nature. Seriously induced by nature. He can't move a power plant and I told him, I said, "Sir, even if you succeeded, where would you locate it, in Sugarhouse?" Come on, Andy, the land would be so contaminated. You'd have a superfund site for the next 50 years. I mean, you're not going to move ... It's impossible to move a refinery. He wants to move the Marathon refinery. I'll just give you an example and the Gatsby plant. Ain't going to happen. Never will happen.

Richard Goldberger:

So I want to be laser specific in what I want to do and one of the things I want to do is I want to have ... The next thing I want to do is have a bus, a giant, like the campaign bus. I want to bring that into the neighborhoods and I'll spend most of my time, the office of the mayor in the neighborhoods conducting the city's business, whether it's Swedetown, Rose Park, Ensign Peak, Bonneville. I want to be in every neighborhood and sub-neighborhood in the city conducting my business. That's different. I want to bring my campaign to the people. I am a servant to the people. I'm strictly a public servant. I don't like politicians. I really don't like politics and I think a vast majority of people would concur with me. They don't like politicians. Politicians want your money, your vote and don't buy the rest, we're too busy.

Jason Perry:

One of the things that is inside all of these ideas you just brought up is working with our state legislature to some extent too. What are your thoughts about engaging them with some of these efforts that you want to undertake?

Richard Goldberger:

Well, it's a team. We're a team. We have the city, we have the county, we have the legislature, we have the governor, and we work. We try to work together. Again, my slogan is government by objectives. It's something different. Let's make it work. Let's make it work. Let's do things right and we'll do the job and guess what? It's going to pay off and probably at lower cost to the taxpayer because we're going to have more efficacy, more efficiency in how the money is being spent. I don't like waste, fraud or abuse in governmental spending and that adds up into the millions and millions. We want to raise taxes again. Taxation with representation.

Jason Perry:

Excellent. Thank you so much for your thoughts on these very important issues. We're so grateful to have Richard Goldberger, candidate for mayor with us today.

Richard Goldberger:

Thank you. It's been a privilege.


David Ibarra

Jason Perry:

Well, we're pleased to have now with us, David Ibarra, an entrepreneur and business owner of several companies, Dillon Insurance, brokerage, learning, and sales software. David also runs a scholarship foundation. Thank you so much for being with us today.

David Ibarra:

Well, Jason, thank you for having me.

Jason Perry:

When you think about being mayor, you have a set of priorities, I know. What will be number one for you as mayor?

David Ibarra:

Well, it's almost unfair to ask number one because we can chew gum and walk at the same time, but since you asked the thing that is most critical that's right in front of us is our homeless situation, our homeless crisis. I walked the streets of our downtown every night for about 45 minutes and it's changed and it's not safe. It's not clean and we're not being compassionate to the shelter resistant population. This needs to be addressed in a very compassionate way. I think that's our first, number one thing that we have to do. The shelters are being closed, the resource centers are opening, but we still don't have a direction for the shelter resistant that do want to be on the streets and do want to live on the streets and we've got to come up with a solution for that. I have some things in mind and will be ready should we need to do so.

Jason Perry:

What are a couple of those big ideas?

David Ibarra:

Well, one of the things is I think that when I don't know something, and that happens a lot, I call somebody who does and you can get ahold of the conference of mayors. Mayor Fischer from Louisville is the president and who in this country is doing well and there are several cities that come up, Austin, San Antonio and Tampa, and there is an expert out there that I spent some time with, a national consultant, Robert Marbut, and those cities have approached it in a different way and have taken their folks that are sleeping on the streets in San Antonio from the 900 area to a functional zero. And the night that I was there, I walked in at five o'clock in the morning actually, and there was five people, only five sleeping in the street and I'd call that as success. And those that say, "No, I'm going to treat them like my brothers and sisters," I will do the exact same like my brother and sister that I wouldn't allow to sleep on the street. We're better than that and we're more compassionate than that.

Jason Perry:

When you have a race that's crowded like this, one with several different candidates, it becomes very important to distinguish yourself in some way. Take a moment and describe for us what does distinguish you from these other candidates that are looking for this office?

David Ibarra:

Well, I think that you know, all of the skills involved in this race are important. Certainly in city council where we're doing regulations, and policy, and the state legislature that we're a piece of legislation, but none of those are ... If they're not put into action, nothing happens until an action is put into motion followed by another one, and another one, and another one. That's where we gain momentum. Now, I've spent my career working with companies all across this country and CEOs on how it is that you set goals, create actions, who's going to do them, by when set milestones so that we can check ourselves, and I'll tell you, that's the kind of experience that I bring from the private sector that I think is very important for the public sector as well.

Jason Perry:

Now, part of your job with that experience will be working with our legislature, which has been something that the city has been ... a relationship that they've been working on for a little while. How will you approach that role and working with them specifically?

David Ibarra:

Well, I think that the team sport of lobbying grenades at the legislature will be over under my administration. I have never seen, Jason, in my life where you get anything accomplished or an agreement made by insulting the other party. It just widens the gap. When you're problem solving, you look at what caused it. What actions could we do to relieve the cause? And when we roll up our sleeves and start a discussion together, guess what? Everybody forgets who's a Democrat and who's a Republican because problem solving is problem solving. And you know, that's exactly what I'll bring to the legislature, to the hill. And I've had fun speaking with the speaker, the president of the Senate, the governor, and the lieutenant governor. I've had fun.

Jason Perry:

When you think about how to use those relationships and you combine that with your vision of Salt Lake, tell us where it's going. The Vision for Salt Lake as you see it.

David Ibarra:

Well, I tell you, for me, you know, I like to do a, a purpose statement and to me, Salt Lake City's got to be beautiful, prosperous, and livable. And there are certainly categories under each one of those three items. But when we talk about livable, you know that means that we can have our homeless situation under control, that folks aren't living and sleeping in the streets, that we have visitors that come to Salt Lake that experience Salt Lake. We have so much to offer and we want them to have the kind of experience that they had 10 years ago, 20 years ago during the Olympics. That neighborhoods become gathering points where you can sit on your stoop and have conversations and not feel like you're unsafe.  And prosperous. When we get affordable housing and folks coming back and living in the city because we offer affordable housing, guess what happens? Sales transactions. Our biggest revenue generator is the sale of a product within our city because we receive about one-eighth of every of the total sales tax and that's how we can build our budget and there's much more I could talk about.

Jason Perry:

No, that's true. Thank you very much for answering these questions for us today. Candidate for Salt Lake City mayor, David Ibarra.

David Ibarra:

Thank you.

Jason Perry:

Thank you.


Erin Mendenhall

Jason Perry:

Joining us now is council woman Erin Mendenhall who represents District Five in Salt Lake City. She has also served as the council chair. She has a nonprofit background and helped found Breathe Utah and currently serves as the chairwoman of the State Air Quality Board. Erin, thank you for being with us today.

Erin Mendenhall:

Such a pleasure to be with you. Thank you, Jason.

Jason Perry:

Okay, we're going to jump right in.

Erin Mendenhall:

Let's do it.

Jason Perry:

As mayor, what is your number one priority?

Erin Mendenhall:

Infrastructure. I think I stand apart from the other candidates. You know, air quality is the lens through which I see probably every issue we could possibly talk about, so it's always there, but infrastructure and public safety are the two main things that every city has to get right. They're just basic. And particularly since the 2008, 2009 recession, our infrastructure has crumbled and we know that a majority of our streets are in poor or failing condition.

Erin Mendenhall:

Last year when I was chair, we took some bold steps toward funding. One of those was doubling our maintenance crew, so we have twice as lane miles getting repaired by next year as we did last year. The other piece was that $87 million bond we put on the ballot that our voters overwhelmingly approved in order to repair some of our worst streets. But the truth is we're just barely getting started on what needs to happen with our streets. So I think Salt Lake City deserves a mayor that knows how to not just use the financial tools that we have, how to aggressively go after the tens of millions in federal dollars that we're eligible for, get after those county transportation dollars we recently approved as a council, but really how to hold the conversation with the community about what do you want done, how do we get it done? And I'll tell you, no matter where I walk in the city, people talk to me about the streets.

Jason Perry:

You talked about that experience and that approach being something that distinguishes. Identify any other factors here. Once you have several candidates running for a race, it's important people understand what makes you unique. So give us a moment about that.

Erin Mendenhall:

Yeah. You mentioned in the intro that I was chair of the council last year and you'll recall that 2018 was a seminal year for Salt Lake City. The inland port legislation following litigation stands out in particular. And really our mayor's walking away from a negotiation to try to resolve and get Salt Lake City anything out of that horrible piece of legislation that happened last year left me as the chair with an option to decide to stand up as a chair like we never have before and go back to the state and say, "Please work with me. We've got to get something better for Salt Lake City residents." That's what I did.

Erin Mendenhall:

So that's just an illustration I think of what I uniquely bring to this campaign, which is real experience governing Salt Lake City. For the last 12 years we've had a mayor, we've had two mayors over the last 12 years who came from the state legislature. I think it's time Salt Lake City had a mayor that has actual governing experience of Salt Lake City, who knows how to work with the community at every step, who knows how to get along and disagree with the council, but keep working together. Every one of my council peers encouraged me to run for mayor and I think that should bring a lot of confidence to our residents and voters when they're looking at the difference between Erin Mendenhall and the other seven people on the ballot.

Jason Perry:

For just a moment, about that relationship with the legislature, you've had to work with them even in the most recent past. As mayor, how would you consider working with them? What are you going to do with that relationship and how to position Salt Lake City?

Erin Mendenhall:

This may be another place where I distinguish a little bit from other candidates, but I believe that Salt Lake City is a pendulum swing from the rest of the state, politically speaking, most of the time and our history of being combative over the decades has led to the state not necessarily inviting us to the table when we should be at the table. Our mayor should be a person who has the temperament and work ethic that stays at it no matter what the setting of the table looks like. You've got to stay at the conversation for our residents. That's something I've done as an air quality advocate as the chair of the Air Quality Board for the state. I'm vice chair of Quality Growth Commission for the state. I'm in it with the state day in and day out and I also how to represent Salt Lake City's values and what we need as a city. So that's something I've been doing for the last six years as a city council woman and a decade as an air quality advocate.

Jason Perry:

When you start talking about those policies, how Salt Lake City goes in terms of policy has an impact on the state. In your final few seconds here, your vision for Salt Lake City going forward.

Erin Mendenhall:

Salt Lake City is and should continue to be the leader in the region for progressive ideas and progressive values. That said, I would like us to grow a tech ecosystem here in Salt Lake City. I'm up on the hill with you by the University of Utah today where it's ground zero for great ideas. Research Park, and the University of Utah, and the other universities in the community are coming up with some incredible entrepreneurs that we should be cultivating a fertile ground in Salt Lake City for them to put those entrepreneurial roots down, help us grow a tech ecosystem here. It's the highest paying, fastest growing industry in the state. We don't have enough of it. That's just a little piece of the vision I have of how we can grow Salt Lake City in a way that complements what we need and want as residents.

Jason Perry:

Very good. Thank you for the insightful answers. Candidate for mayor, Erin Mendenhall.

Erin Mendenhall:

Thank you.

Jason Perry:

Thank you.


Stan Penfold

Jason Perry:

Joining us now for our final interview is Stan Penfold as former Salt Lake City councilman, he served as redevelopment agency chairman of the council for three years and in leadership in that council for those three years. He also served as the former director of the Utah Aids Foundation. So glad to have you with us here today, Stan.

Stan Penfold:

It's a pleasure. Thank you.

Jason Perry:

So let's start just with the big issue here on your policies and priorities. As mayor, what is the number one priority for you going forward?

Stan Penfold:

Well, the thing I hear most from everybody is the air quality and concerns about our air quality in Salt Lake City and in the valley and people just want to do something. So my number one initiative is to provide free fare for clean air, which is a free UTA pass for every single Salt Lake City resident. It's something that we tried out in 2017 when I was on the council. I got a collaboration with UTA and Salt Lake County and we did a free-fare day and ridership went up 26% that one day. So I know people are eager to do it and by eliminating that fare barrier, I know we'll get a bump in ridership.

Jason Perry:

What kind of impact are you seeing having just in terms of the population but people looking to relocate to the state or grow here?

Stan Penfold:

Well, I know that people are really looking for alternatives to their cars, but we haven't done a really great job of providing alternatives. And so while we say we know that tailpipe emissions are the number one contributor to our air quality problems, we really haven't given people a lot of options to get out of their cars. So I think this is just one step in that direction. And by eliminating that fare barrier, I know that people will start riding the bus and the train, but then we have some more work to do around those modes of transportation to get people where they need to be. There's a bus run when you need it, where you it. That's the next step.

Jason Perry:

Now, when you have several candidates running for an office, as you have competitors here, it's important to try to show how you can distinguish yourself in some way. So take a moment about that. How would you distinguish yourself from the other candidates?

Stan Penfold:

Well, first off, I say it's always good to have great candidates in a campaign. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every election was a hard choice? But I think I'm different because I really come from Salt Lake City neighborhoods. I started over 30 years ago as a neighborhood activist for one of the community councils and worked my way up beginning with Palmer DePaulis as mayor and he's my idol of what a mayor should be. And I just had a lot of experience working from that neighborhood perspective and then serving on the council. I learned how the city works. And so that's what I bring to this role of mayor is really understanding how the city function, how it works, what we need to do to really focus on how we want to look in the future, what we want to be in the future.

Jason Perry:

One of those issues you had to take up is the relationship with the Utah State legislature. As the mayor, what are you going to do to approach that relationship, improve it or otherwise? How are you going to work with them?

Stan Penfold:

Well, I think it's absolutely critical that the mayor be at the table with a really strong voice. And so that has to happen. That relationship is frequently adversarial between the city and the state just because we represent different constituencies. But that doesn't mean that we don't want some things in common that are very important to all of us. Economic development being a really good example. I think the success comes from finding out that sort of common level values that we all share and then when we start a conversation there rather than at a higher political opposite level, I think we start talking about what we want to see happen as a group of citizens and residents, and once we start that conversation at that level, I think we're far more likely to have progress that benefits everybody.

Jason Perry:

As you work on that relationship, the policies that go forward, particularly for Salt Lake City, seem to have an impact not just on the city but throughout the state. With that in mind, your vision for Salt Lake City as it relates to the rest of the State of Utah.

Stan Penfold:

Well, Salt Lake City is the capital city and I think sometimes, we forget that and we don't behave like we are the capital city. We're the number one economic driver for this entire region and sometimes we just don't behave like we are. I think that's the attitude that's really important for us to take to the table when we're talking to the state, when we're talking to the county, when we're talking to other municipalities like that. We can lead out. We don't have to wait for someone to fix our air quality problems or to help us with some of the political issues that are concerning to us. We need to lead out. Our nondiscrimination ordinance is a really good example of that. Salt Lake City led out on that, other cities adopted it, and then it finally went to the state and was approved. I think we need to take more action like that.

Jason Perry:

Are there any other initiatives similar to that that you're thinking about undertaking?

Stan Penfold:

Well, environmentally, absolutely. We're looking at a net-zero carbon-neutral initiatives. We're looking at plastic and what's happening with plastic on a global level and what can we do locally about that. I think those are really important issues and I think Salt Lake City residents truly care about those things and want us as a city to be proactive.

Jason Perry:

Very good. Thank you for your thoughtful answers to these questions. We appreciate it. Joining us today, Stan Penfold, candidate for mayor.

Stan Penfold:

Thank you so much.

Jason Perry:

Thank you.