Ben McAdams may just be the face of politics in Utah's future. He is a candidate for the top job in Salt Lake County and a state senator. He is well-educated, intelligent, hard-working. He has demonstrated a remarkable ability to build partnerships and consensus over controversial projects.
He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which probably should not be listed as a qualification for leading the largest constituency in the state. But here it does matter.
And McAdams is a Democrat.
That last may be surprising, given that a majority of Salt Lake County mayors, mostly Republicans, and at least one GOP legislator have endorsed McAdams. And it might also surprise some that, being a member of the mostly irrelevant minority party, Sen. McAdams was able to get 11 bills passed this year.
As senior adviser to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, he worked successfully to get Republican legislators to agree not to attack the city's anti-discrimination ordinance to protect job and housing opportunities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents. McAdams also pulled together a financing package to rebuild the viaduct over Interstate 15 without raising taxes. Before that, he gathered the necessary support at the Legislature to build the airport TRAX line.
His background and experience both in the Legislature and in working with the Legislature qualify him for the job of Salt Lake County mayor. He has our endorsement.
McAdams' opponent, former County Councilman Mark Crockett, is also a bright guy with fine credentials. He is a graduate of Stanford University law school, while McAdams earned a law degree at Columbia University. They both have experience practicing law and working with corporate finance and management and both are fiscally prudent.
But Crockett, who represented an east-central district on the County Council for one term before losing in 2008, is not the bridge-builder that McAdams is. To his credit, Crockett understands that county government is about providing services to all county residents, especially those who are in need of help, including the elderly, mentally ill and addicts. He believes the county should provide those services, more efficiently and compassionately.
But Crockett has a reputation as intelligent but aloof, and even, sometimes, combative. He is a technocrat, seeming to prefer dealing with data rather than with people.
McAdams has proven political skills that the county needs to meet the challenges of growth and diversity.