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Salt Lake City Mayor-elect Jackie Biskupski has asked for the resignations of all department heads and mayoral staff in City Hall, with the exception of Fire Chief Brian Dale and interim Police Chief Mike Brown.
"As is common in mayoral transitions, I have requested that all appointed department heads, as well as the mayoral staff, submit a letter of resignation to me by Jan. 4," she said in a prepared statement Monday. "Each of these resignations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and, as soon as possible, I will determine whether to accept individual letters of resignation."
Former Mayor Rocky Anderson said the approach is unprecedented in Utah's capital and he said many in City Hall are "shocked and appalled."
Biskupski has asked all department heads to remain in their positions until resignations are accepted.
"As the incoming mayor, it is my responsibility to review all appointed positions and the current structure of city agencies," she said, "to ensure the wishes of voters are reflected throughout city government."
With public safety in mind, however, Biskupski said she has decided not to request the resignations of Dale or Brown. "I would like the opportunity to work with both of them to evaluate their performance and to determine whether they will support my vision for public safety."
In the meantime, Biskupski will begin recruiting for appointed positions. The mayor can appoint 111 positions citywide, including 20 in the mayor's office. In her statement, Biskupski said she has formed a transition team of people with diverse backgrounds in government, human resources, small business, law and consulting. The mayor-elect said she has selected 34 appointed people, consisting of department heads and mayoral staff, who will be part of her first round of review.
The request for mass resignations is standard operating procedure in Utah state government. But Anderson, who led Salt Lake City eight years ago, said it was a new and disturbing turn for municipal employees.
"You're putting people through tremendous anguish. It's so arrogant and unnecessary," said Anderson, who supported Biskupski during the campaign. "Longtime employees have been using words like 'appalled,' 'shocked,' 'angry' and 'unprecedented.' "
Anderson said the incoming mayor has quickly and needlessly alienated many as she works to put together her own team in City Hall.
Biskupski's transition team declined to release the list of affected positions, a move spokesman Matthew Rojas said was a matter "of respect" for city employees.
"For the last few weeks, I have been working to ensure the transition between Mayor Ralph Becker's administration, and mine is transparent, fair and respectful for both city employees and the public," Biskupski said. "Earlier today, I sent all Salt Lake City employees a transition document, laying out my initial timetable for this process.
"I have already met with many of these individuals, and, in the next several days, I will have met with every department head," she said. "Members of my transition team will also meet with department heads and mayoral staff."
Biskupski thanked Becker and his staff for aiding in her transition.
First round of review
Mayor-elect Jackie Biskupski's transition team declined to release a list of positions included in its first requests for resignations Below is a list compiled from the city website:
Community and Economic Development
• Chief of staff
• Deputy chief of staff
• Volunteer services coordinator
• Community relations director
• Deputy director of communication
• Office manager
• Refugee community liaison
• Education partnership coordinator
• Senior adviser arts & culture
• Executive assistant
• Senior adviser for intergovernmental affairs
• Constituent services
• Administrative assistant
• Executive office assistant
• Content & communications manager
• Community liaison districts 1,2,3,4
• Community liaison districts 4,5,6,7
• Office of diversity & human rights