Voters in Salt Lake City's District 1 face a choice between two men who share a deep love for their neighborhood, and that's good in an area that hasn't always felt the love. The northwest corner of the city has had its share of poverty and crime, and some outsiders see little more than that.
But James Rogers and Kevin Parke know it as a place that is family friendly, well-situated close to downtown and growing faster than the rest of the city.
Rogers, a businessman who manages commercial real estate and a billboard company, says the district is in an "incubator state" and is "ready to explode" as more people discover its benefits. An eight-year resident of the district whose family has roots in Rose Park, Rogers touts his business experience, and he says he would bring that mindset to the council. He opposed the council's recent 13.8 percent tax increase. Instead, he believes the city could rely on new taxes proposed in the Utah Legislature: an increase in the hotel tax, a change in how gas tax is distributed, and the addition of sales taxes on Internet purchases.
Parke, an escrow officer who has lived in the district for 14 years, also said he would have opposed the tax increase, although he may have supported a smaller one. Parke sees the council position requiring more than business acumen, and he emphasizes his community outreach. He has served on the Rose Park Community Council. He joined Rogers in saying the area needs a big-box store to keep residents from shopping in Davis County.
Without hesitation, both men identified public safety as the district's No. 1 issue. Rogers would like the city to offer incentives to keep police living in the city so their presence and patrol cars are visible to residents.
Parke wants police response times improved. He also wants to improve outreach so more people, particularly the minority population, feel more connected and are more willing to call the police when trouble comes.
Both men raised air quality and transportation as major issues, and both voiced support for more park and ride lots along the North Temple TRAX line. Parke also wants to push for more buses in the district, while Rogers believes UTA's proposed changes to existing routes are adequate.
Both said they would have opposed the city's recently approved performing arts center, instead using the money to increase city employee compensation.
Salt Lake City Council District 1 hasn't had a new council member since Deedee Corradini was mayor. Carlton Christensen is finishing his fourth term as the representative, and by any measure he has served with distinction.
Rogers would serve the district well, but Parke gets our endorsement for his commitment to reaching the underserved residents who are a growing part of Salt Lake City's culture.