This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Seven town hall meetings have been held to educate residents of unincorporated Salt Lake County about the Nov. 3 Community Preservation vote.
Mail-in ballots will be sent this week to registered voters among the 160,000-some-odd residents of the six townships and 37 islands of unincorporated land scattered across the county. Voter information pamphlets will follow shortly thereafter.
So let the politicking begin.
Only a month remains for advocates to convince their neighbors that becoming a city is the best way for their community to move forward or, conversely, that becoming a metro township and joining a new municipal-services district will come closest to keeping things as they are now.
For island residents, the choice will be between staying unincorporated or annexing into an adjacent city Sandy for most, although in two instances, the options are South Jordan and Cottonwood Heights.
"We want you to be happy. We want you to make a decision that feels right to you," County Mayor Ben McAdams said last week at the final town hall meeting, attended by about 100 residents of the unincorporated islands. As many as 300 people turned out for an earlier meeting in Millcreek, while smaller crowds assembled in Magna, Kearns, Copperton, White City and Emigration Canyon.
"Whatever decision you choose, we'll make it work," he added, noting that a primary goal of putting together the Community Preservation initiative already has been accomplished: freezing the boundaries of the existing unincorporated area.
"My job was to preserve your tax base in Millcreek, Magna and Kearns," McAdams told the island residents. "With those preserved, we can provide you services."
County officials have been trying diligently to be neutral throughout this process, repeatedly expressing belief in the right of self-determination for residents of the various communities.
To help residents understand the nuances of voting one way or another in this change-of-governance election, their voter information pamphlet contains arguments submitted by advocates of different positions.
That's not surprising since interest in incorporating the spread-out community in the east-central valley never diminished despite a solid defeat at the polls two years ago.
City supporters stayed intact and seemed to become more invigorated as they worked with McAdams along with Millcreek incorporation opponents and others over two legislative sessions to craft the law establishing the Community Preservation election process.
With financial and population figures showing that Millcreek has the best prospects of being self-sufficient, city supporters emphasized that becoming a municipality would make Millcreek "fully independent … with representative government," especially if the area stays out of the municipal-services district.
Opponents counter that going the township route is the best way to "remain as we are and not get gobbled up in an unnecessary and additional level of government," particularly if the area joins the service district.
The voter information guide features city vs. township debates between residents of Magna and Kearns, but in neither west-side community was anyone found to express objections to joining the service district.
Similarly, no service-district reservations were expressed in Copperton, White City or Emigration Canyon.
Through omissions, the guide also offered evidence that many people don't understand what this election is about.
Because invited submissions from the public did not come in, County Council members Michael Jensen and Aimee Winder Newton stepped in to write arguments laying out reasons for Magna, Kearns, Emigration Canyon and Copperton to join the service district.
Jensen and Newton also penned an argument in support of White City becoming a metro township, while officials from three existing cities Mayors JoAnn Seghini of Midvale and Ted Eyre of Murray and Councilman Lynn Pace of Holladay were brought in to espouse the idea of that enclave within Sandy becoming a true city.
That trio also spoke on behalf of Copperton and Emigration Canyon becoming cities, but in neither case did the officials address the question of those communities entering or staying out of the service district.
Kimberly Barnett, the associate deputy county mayor who has overseen the election process, said a postcard will be sent in the next few weeks to unincorporated- area residents, alerting them to information available on the county website and elsewhere. (Sandy has a page for island residents to study at http://sandy.utah.gov/government/administration/annexation.html">http://sandy.utah.gov/government/administration/annexation.html.)
The purpose of the mailing, she said, "is to emphasize, 'Please vote. This is an important issue for you.' We're here to answer any questions that come up."