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Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced Monday that he will seek a third term as the city's top executive, but he'll have to defeat a sitting councilman Luke Garrott to stay in the office past January 2016.
And the field could get a lot more crowded with former two-term Mayor Rocky Anderson considering jumping in, and former state Rep. Jackie Biskupski keeping her options open for a run.
Becker held a news conference Monday to announce his intention to become Salt Lake City's first mayor elected to a third term since Ted Wilson in 1983. (Wilson left office midway through his final term to take a position at the University of Utah.)
"I want to continue to serve this beautiful city that I love," the 62-year-old mayor said. "With the support of our community, I look forward to an energetic campaign year, and years ahead for Salt Lake City."
Upon hearing Becker's plan, Garrott officially launched his mayoral bid.
The two-term councilman had earlier filed paperwork at City Hall that allowed him to accept campaign contributions.
In a prepared statement, Garrott faulted Becker for focusing on his national profile rather than local issues.
Last month, Becker took the position of president of the National League of Cities.
"Ralph's extensive travel shows his priorities are elsewhere," Garrott said. "We need a mayor invested in what's happening in our city. Right now, with Ralph gone so much of the time, we have to ask, 'Who's minding the shop?' "
In an interview Monday, Anderson said he, too, was seriously considering another run for the mayor's chair.
"If I could clone myself, I would have joined the race a month ago," Anderson said, citing prior commitments. "I need to talk to clients and evaluate what it means to launch into a yearlong campaign."
Anderson said he would like to run because the city needs effective guidance. "In a nutshell, it's clear the city needs engaged, innovative leadership."
Biskupski said Monday she will determine in the coming weeks whether she, too, will mount a mayoral push.
"If the voters want to keep the same leadership, they will make that decision," she said. "There are a lot of reasons to run. The main thing is, voters should have viable choices."
At his news conference, Becker outlined a host of accomplishments, including revitalizing downtown, improving transportation, streamlining zoning and revamping liquor regulations.
"I believe that with my administration's experience, together we in Salt Lake City can tap our resources on behalf of Salt Lake City and achieve our mutual goals for a great American city."
Although Becker has made no secret of his frequent trips to Washington, D.C., he dismissed Garrott's claims that he wasn't aware of goings-on at City Hall.
"I'm connected 24-7. There are not many waking hours when I'm not doing my job," he said in an interview. "I do what's best for the city. I'm not going to apologize for it."
Beyond travel, Garrott, who represents District 4 and teaches political science at the U., said too much of Becker's agenda is focused on items other than residents.
"Ralph has spent eight years catering to big-dollar, luxury and legacy projects," Garrott said. "People must be the top priority for Salt Lake City's mayor."
The mayor does point to accomplishments, such as the Eccles Theater now under construction downtown, the new Public Safety Building, the addition of a regional Goldman Sachs office at 222 Main St. and the Sugar House Streetcar.
But he also highlights community initiatives, such as his push to allow neighborhood brew pubs, the expansion of the community garden program and the addition of bicycle lanes.
Becker touted his responsiveness to all sectors of the city.
"I often say that my job as mayor is to make sure we provide the services and facilities that residents, businesses and visitors rely on every day as well as possible in a fiscally prudent way."