General Candidate Statement: As a father of two young girls, I’m constantly reminded of the challenges our city faces. In the coming years, Salt Lake City will have an opportunity to lead the way in providing clean air, a stable climate, affordable housing, and resources for those in need.
My career has been built around these challenges, and as mayor I’ll use my experiences to address our most important concerns. As an attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, I dedicated 10 years of my life to fighting for our environment and public lands; as the executive director of the Pioneer Park Coalition, I worked on the ground with those experiencing homelessness to provide greater resources.
Mayoral Candidate Questions:
Salt Lake City has not had an update to the Transportation Master Plan since 1996. What is your vision for transportation in Salt Lake City, and what would you do to get a new transportation master plan in place?
Salt Lake City will likely see significant population growth in the coming years and decades but our roads will not grow with them. We do not have room for more roads. We will not be able to move people around our city efficiently if we all use cars. Not only this, we have now learned that car-centric city design makes our communities less healthy, more polluted, and less neighborly.
To help address these problems, we need more people on bikes, public transit, and on foot.
I think the most important step the next mayor can take is to boldly pursue our Transit Master Plan (2017) and the Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan (2015). The lack of political leadership and support for city plans and staff has been the key shortcoming to realizing the vision of a city that supports many different ways of moving people efficiently.
What is your vision for cycling (both road and mountain biking, commuting and recreation) in Salt Lake City? What would you do to make that vision happen (planning, budget, infrastructure, education, safety, economy, etc.)?
Bikes are a key solution in addressing a growing population and constrained public roadways. As with active transportation issues generally, a supportive, engaged mayor is the key to making Salt Lake more bikeable. We can make significant progress by following our Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan. In addition, a safer bike network will help draw more people onto bikes for recreation and leisure.
Our foothills are a great resource for recreation. I will work to see our foothill trail plan to completion so that we expand offerings for mountain biking, among other activities.
Climate change is endangering the planet. Car and Truck Transportation is responsible for approximately 23% of the US CO2 output according to the EPA. And, transportation accounts for approximately 50% of PM2.5 emissions according to UCAIR. Salt Lake City is moving towards carbon free electricity generation. What will you do to move towards a carbon free transportation system in Salt Lake City and consequently obtain better air quality? How do biking and walking fit in your plan?
Our city’s climate goals were developed at an earlier time. They are no longer bold or commensurate with the challenge we face. As mayor, I would work to speed them up.
First, I want Salt Lake City’s electricity supply to come from 100% clean energy–wind and solar–by the end of my first term. We can do this without raising rates. This step alone will reduce our carbon footprint by 50 percent.
We are actually paying more for electricity because Rocky Mountain Power is dependent on old, costly coal-fired power plants. Recently, Rocky Mountain Power acknowledged that 60% of its coal fleet is more expensive to operate today than to switch to alternatives.
In 2021, Salt Lake City will renegotiate its franchise agreement with Rocky Mountain Power. Our franchise agreement gives Rocky Mountain Power access throughout our city to run power lines and also includes commitments to move forward on renewable energy. It provides us with the key opportunity to push Rocky Mountain Power for the rapid and cost-saving implementation of wind and solar energy.
Next, I would like to see the city move up its overall goal of 80 percent reduction in our carbon footprint from 2040 to 2030. The remaining portion of that goal can come from new construction standards that incentivize net zero buildings, fuel switching from cars, and improving transportation design to facilitate non-car trips.
Complete Streets are streets for people of all ages using all types of mobility. Salt Lake City has a Complete Streets Ordinance that was passed into law in 2011. Yet the ordinance is often ignored, or circumvented (for example on 100 S, 700 S, and 2100 S). Salt Lake City recently passed the Funding Our Future Bond and implemented a city and county sales tax that will go to fund transportation. What would you do to ensure that the ordinance is strengthened and followed, especially in regards to those streets reconstructed with the bond?
We need political leadership and courage to implement what is best for our growing city. The mayor plays a critical role as the visionary for the city. The next mayor must engage with residents and standing up for improvements that will help our city in the long run.
UDOT Roads are important corridors for bikes as well as cars. What would you do to work with UDOT to ensure that UDOT and SLC implement bike facilities on these roads such as State Street (see Life on State)?
The Salt Lake City mayor has to be at the table with UDOT. There are critical UDOT roads in Salt Lake City that are unsafe for bikes and uninviting for pedestrians. I think continued engagement from the mayor with UDOT is the most effective way to make changes here.
The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan guides bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Salt Lake City. What will you do to ensure its rapid implementation? Are there improvements that you would like to make to the plan?
I think the key on this plan is a mayor who is willing to lead and explain to residents the benefit of this plan, even for those who remain in their cars. I also think a key to implementation is getting city departments to improve communication and collaboration so that funding can come from various departments to build new infrastructure.
I would like to see more robust metrics for evaluating whether the plan is succeeding. I would also like to see us be bolder and have more multi-use paths for moving around the city than what the plan calls for.
Salt Lake City currently does not have a formal Vision Zero program. What will you do to work towards Vision Zero (zero fatalities) for cyclists and pedestrians in Salt Lake City? Would you commit to establishing a formal Vision Zero program? What would you like to see in regards to speed limits in Salt Lake City?
The most important step for improving safety is being willing to move forward on the plans we have. A mayor who is willing to stand up and be a strong leader can create safe streets for cyclists and pedestrians. A prime example of this is on 2100 S where our current political leadership backed out of creating a safer environment for cyclists. We have to do better.
What do you think of the new shared electric scooters in Salt Lake City?
I use them on occasion to get around the city. They can be convenient. I have had the brakes fail on two different scooters while going downhill so I am not convinced they are terribly safe. I think they can be a helpful part of our city’s transportation network, though we should be mindful of safety, their impact on air quality, how sustainable their business model is, and where they are used on our streets and sidewalks.
What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake City and what will you do to address it?
The two biggest issues I notice when riding in Salt Lake are, first, deteriorating roads and, second, that we still have many streets that are unsafe for riders.
The scariest moments I have on my bike are usually related to riding 800 E between 900 S and 1300 S at night because there are some serious potholes that can be hard to see until too late. These could easily throw a rider to the ground.
Fortunately, because of recent bonding and our sales tax increase, we will be able to make some improvements to our deteriorating roads. However, we will likely not be able to address all of our road needs with these improvements and the next mayor will have to again broach the topic of street funding.
As for the lack of safety, I think the most important step is implementing our city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.
Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
I do ride a bicycle for commuting and getting around town. I have used my bike as my main form of transportation for my entire professional career.
Is there anything else you would like to add?