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Jackie Biskupski wants to become the second female mayor of Salt Lake City and, in so doing, derail Ralph Becker from winning a third term.
The 49-year-old former state legislator's entry into the 2015 race will force a primary City Councilman Luke Garrott previously weighed in. Only two candidates will emerge from the Aug. 11 runoff election.
Biskupski will formally launch her campaign Saturday at 11 a.m. on the east steps of City Hall.
Deedee Corradini served as mayor from 1992-2000
Biskupski, who is a single mom, has hinted at running for mayor since her legislative retirement.
She is seeking the mayor's seat because she believes social issues should be priorities, along with economic development and the environment.
"For me, I'm focused on what I bring to the table an inviting vision for the future of the city," she said in a Wednesday interview.
The onetime small business owner said her agenda, if elected, would include a city government that better nurtures local entrepreneurs, and is better at attracting businesses.
"We need structural change in how the city views the business community," she said. "I see a significant shift from what feels like an obstructionist partner to an advocacy that helps them."
Biskupski was the first openly gay person elected to the Utah House of Representatives. She served 12 years but retired in 2011 when she moved out of District 30, which she had represented. She now works as the administrative assistant to Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder.
Among other things, Biskupski describes herself as an activist for social justice. As she was leaving the Legislature, she told The Tribune she was most proud of what she was able to accomplish for the homeless, the poor and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Her biggest regret, she said, was failing to repeal Utah's ban on same-sex marriage.
Biskupski is known for her inclusiveness and her ability to listen to all sides of issues, said Joe Hatch, a former Salt Lake County Council member and former chairman of the county Democratic Party.
"I think she will be a wonderful mayor," he said. "She is extremely inclusive of everybody. She can communicate and get along with people she disagrees with."
Gayle Ruzicka, who heads up the conservative Eagle Forum, agreed. The Utah County conservative activist sparred with the progressive lawmaker on many topics.
"We rarely agreed. But we could discuss the issues and accept the fact that we weren't going to agree," Ruzicka said. "We're still friends, but if I lived in Salt Lake City, she wouldn't represent my concerns or values."
Biskupski said her management style in City Hall would be that of a collaborator. The community she envisions is one that brings business leaders and residents together to form partnerships that "build a strong, sustainable economy," she said. "I like bringing people in and having a real dialogue."
The former lawmaker recognized her campaign will be challenging. Becker has a relatively large campaign fund, name recognition and has demonstrated he knows how to get out the vote. Garrott, on the other hand, has a lot of energy and is well-schooled in the intricacies of city government and attendant issues.
Nonetheless, Biskupski believes her grass-roots approach to politics and fresh ideas will propel her into the mayor's office.