Michael Jensen's greatest weakness is his greatest strength. He wears so many hats and does so many things that his opponent in the Nov. 6 election is not the only person who thinks that the District 2 member of the Salt Lake County Council is spread too thin.
On balance, though, it seems clear that Jensen's experience, expertise and energy are assets that the voters of the district should not cast aside. They should, rather, re-elect him to a fourth term.
The west-side Republican's "day job" is that of chief of the Salt Lake County Unified Fire Authority. In the past, the fire district's relationship with the county government has led to reasonable concerns about conflicts of interest.
But the UFA has evolved to the point that it is not only governed by its own board of directors, it has its own taxing authority. So Councilman Jensen no longer sits in judgment over Chief Jensen's budget, job security or chain of command. In areas where the county and the fire district still do business, such as contracting for certain emergency management services, Jensen has gone far beyond the requirements of Utah's puny conflict-of-interest laws, not only disclosing his situation but recusing himself from voting.
But that's about the only time Jensen passes on an opportunity to get things done.
In his 12 years on the council, Jensen has taken on the added responsibility of serving, often in leadership roles, on the governing bodies of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, Utah Sports Commission, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Unified Police District, the local Council of Governments and the county's Redevelopment Agency. This experience gives him priceless levels of expertise on how to get things done, for the county and for his district.
Jensen is the only current member of the council to live in the unincorporated area of the county, and one of only two who live west of I-15. As such, he represents the part of the county that stands to grow the most in population and in need of government-provided services and infrastructure in the coming years.
The Democrat in this race is Brent Goodfellow, a longtime Utah legislator whose devotion to public service is unquestioned. But his platform consists mostly of a single plank: Jensen wears too many hats.
Jensen does fill many different positions in local leadership. But, from all appearances, he fills them very well indeed, and should continue to do so for at least another four years.