Every crew benefits from experienced hands. Democrat Jim Bradley knows the ropes of Salt Lake County government, and voters should keep him in his post as an at-large member of the County Council. Experience and institutional knowledge matter for good government.
Bradley's not just a fair-weather sailor. He volunteered to be the point man for the controversial police fee that the county and the Unified Police service district imposed in the unincorporated area a few years ago. The fee ignited intense opposition from many citizens and it eventually was snuffed out by the Legislature and replaced by a property tax. Nevertheless, the fee was good public policy and a fair method to collect revenues for policing. The county government bumbled its attempts to explain it to taxpayers, but that wasn't for want of Bradley trying. He did his best in hostile public forums and took his lumps.
The memory of that episode in voters' minds may hurt his effort at re-election. But he should get credit for staking his ground and doing his best to explain a complex policy.
The outgrowth of the controversy is that the Unified Police Department now has a more stable source of funding. That's all to the good, because it makes little sense for the 16 cities and the unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County to operate that many separate police departments. Economies of scale and cheek-by-jowl municipal boundaries both argue for unified policing. Bradley has worked hard to bring that about.
Bradley also is a longtime proponent of environmental protection in the county's foothills and mountains. He opposes the SkiLink plan that Talisker is promoting between The Canyons Resort on the Wasatch Back and Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon. He asserts, and we agree, that it is bad policy for the state's congressional delegation to sponsor a bill requiring the federal government to sell public lands to Talisker to enable construction of the gondola. What is needed, he argues correctly, is a comprehensive mountain transportation system for the Wasatch canyons.
If re-elected, Bradley also wishes to concentrate on progressive reforms to the county's criminal justice system, such as early case resolution that would divert people guilty of lesser crimes into rehabilitation sooner and save money.
His opponent, Republican Joe Demma, is a bright young politician who rightly points to the county's $200 million backlog in infrastructure maintenance. But he can't touch Bradley's depth and experience over a broad range of issues.