This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated.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.
An unexpected coalition has formed to support Jackie Biskupski's election as Salt Lake City's mayor. Labor groups and small business owners have joined together to elect Jackie not a common alliance. Most of our groups and businesses have supported Ralph Becker in the past, so why the change?
During the past several years, it has become increasingly obvious to labor groups and small businesspeople that the Becker administration is out of touch with the basic concerns of both. None of us expects the mayor to resolve every concern we have or meet every demand we might make. We do, however, expect the mayor to respect us enough to meet, listen and negotiate with us; in that, we have become more and more frustrated.
It seems to us that this mayor is more concerned with events and perceptions in Washington, D.C., than he is about whether routine processes like licensing and building permits are completed in a timely, efficient and fair manner by city government. He seems more concerned with outside kudos for projects like his 300 South, million-dollar bike lane rebuild than he is with ensuring that such changes work not only for cyclists, but also for others who live, work or park on that street especially for the disabled, our seniors and for emergency vehicles.
Becker is apparently more interested in his own preference in parking meters than gathering input about what regular citizens might prefer or need. And with a lengthy list of critical needs we have in this city law enforcement, improved transit, huge infrastructure deficits, open space and economic development to name but a few this mayor has determined that ahead of them all comes a $120 million "Broadway-style" theater! Given a choice, can anyone really argue that a majority of city residents would have chosen such a frivolous project over that long list of other critical needs?
Alternatively, our experience with Jackie over the last dozen years has been completely the opposite. Jackie was first elected to the Utah Legislature after she was the target of some extremely mean-spirited personal attacks from opponents. Despite these attacks, after she was elected Jackie reached out to her opponents, listened to their concerns and worked hard to find common ground with them.
As a legislator, Jackie's hallmark was to build bridges between unlikely parties while remaining true to her progressive principles. In some of the truly divisive debates of those years in the legislature such as the Amendment 3, excluding same-sex couples from marriage Jackie was instrumental in holding a defensive position against great odds that has paid off in recent court rulings. Yet when she left the Legislature, she did so with lasting friendships and the respect of members from both sides of the aisle. Ralph Becker acknowledged her abilities by appointing Jackie to the powerful Rules Committee when they both served in the Utah House.
We like that Jackie's campaign has been a call for a "strong, collaborative leader." We echo that call. Jackie's commitment to principled coalition building is why so many small business and labor leaders are strongly encouraging this great community to elect Jackie Biskupski as Salt Lake's 35th and second female mayor.
Dale Cox, Utah AFL-CIO
Brandon Dew, Central Utah Federation of Labor
Diane Lewis, Laborers Local #295
Ray Wickens, AFSCME Local 1004
Mike Millard, Salt Lake Police Association
Brad Asay, AFT Utah
David Harries, Ninth East Investments
Kimi Eklund, Kimi's Chop & Oyster House
Mark Lewon, Utah Metal Works, Inc.
John R. Thackeray, The Thackeray Company
Bill Wirthlin, The Associated Group, LLC
Alan Hebertson, Coffee Garden LL
Aaron Butler, Butler Lending Group