On The Issues

When I was first elected to the city council, I had only a vague idea of the vast variety of issues that would come before me for a vote. I had a pretty good idea about land use and utility fees and the budget, but I had no idea that garbage collection contracts could be so involved, and that delapidated park facilities would consume so much of my time and energy.

Now that I know what a term on the city council is actually like, I’m well aware of the issues and concerns that affect our citizens’ everyday lives. I know that issues and concerns can’t be addressed in quick paragraphs like these, and that there’s no way I could touch on every issue that is important to everyone. Please call me anytime to discuss the issues that are important to you. Leave me a message if I don’t answer right away. I will call you back.

I have been an outspoken advocate for economic development in West Jordan. We’ve seen some great strides with the development of the commercial node at 5600 W. and 7800 S. That intersection has attracted some important commercial development in the past few years, and more is coming, including a medical center and additional retail development.

It’s important for our residents to not have to travel too far to shop or to work, so the more we can bring the jobs and the services closer to the homes, the less we have to drive. This eases the burdens on our roads, on the air quality, and on the time we have to spend in our cars. Keeping our purchases in West Jordan also keeps our sales tax dollars in West Jordan, which means we can keep our property taxes among the lowest along the Wasatch Front.

East-west traffic throughout the southern Salt Lake County has long been a challenge, and the continued rapid growth on the west side of our city and the rest of the county is only exacerbating the issue. West Jordan must continue to work with the county and UDOT to find solutions to move people more efficiently through our city.

Currently, West Jordan is the only city that has freeway-style interchanges at each of the Bangerter Highway intersections. 6200 S will be converted in the near future, and within the next decade, Mountain View Corridor will develop into a full-fledged freeway complete with bridges and interchages. Funding solutions to our traffic dilemmas and road maintenance will continue to be a high priority for me over the next four years.

One constant refrain I have heard over the last four years is that more police officers are needed in our city. Both the current and the former police chiefs have asked for the funding to hire several more officers. It’s time we fully fund our police department FIRST.

I have asked our finance team and our police chief to get together and figure out exactly how much it will cost to fund the police department to the level we need, and to fund that before funding ANYTHING ELSE that comes out of the general fund. If we end up needing a tax increase, I don’t want it to be for police and fire. Police and Fire need to be fully funded first, then we can talk about revenue needs for less essential services.

I was a very vocal critic of the 18% property tax increase the city council passed (5-2) in 2018. It was, and remains, my opinion that the council did not look hard enough at ways to squeeze efficiencies out of the current budget before asking the tax payers for more money. I will continue to advocate for zero-based budgeting from all departments to make sure every expenditure is justifed and we are acting as good fiscal stewards of your money. We need to fund the essentials first, like the police and fire departments, and then begin to examine the true costs of the “nice to haves,” like community theaters or recreation centers. It’s about your quality of life, but it’s also about being wise spenders.

I pledge that before I vote for any tax increase above the amount needed for inflation, I will dig into the budget and convince myself and my constituents that every conceivable cut has been made before asking you to pony up more of your money.

One complaint that is often heard as people begin to delve into their local government is the general feeling that their representatives don’t truly represent them. This is one of the reasons I became involved in politics, and one of the reasons I want to continue to serve. I have tried to keep as my guiding principle the fact that you, the people, chose me, the representative, to be your voice in city council meetings, in interactions with the city staff and with developers and businesses and other parties that come before the council. Along the way, I’ve been recognized by the business community as “friendly to business,” and my campaigns have been endorsed by developers and home builders and other associations. I believe this is because while working for the voters of West Jordan, I have seen how a robust business community and thriving, responsible growth can be a good thing for our city in the long term, if done correctly. Consequently, I’ve voted in favor of some developments and against others. I’ve agreed with the voice of the business community, most of whom are small business owners who serve our residents. And I’ve tried to keep in mind who it is I actually work for. I pledge to continue to remember the individual citizens of this city as I continue to represent you in our city government.

For the past seven years as I’ve served on the planning commission as well as the city council, there’s been one refrain I’ve heard over and over again. “No more high density housing!” Unfortunately, this term has been applied and understood differently by developers, city staff, the city code, the city council, and the people of the city.

I think what people are truly asking for is a higher standard of living, higher property values, lower crime, and nicer neighborhoods. As the city passed the “Cap and Grade” ordinance in 2015, just before I was elected to the council, we have seen the effects of this ordinance on the development trends in the city. Some apartment developments have been grandfathered in and are in various states of development. There has been an uptick in applications to build senior housing complexes, because senior housing is protected by law and therefore granted an exception in the code. And we have seen far too many very-high-density single family home developments, such as the one going in on the southeast corner of U-111 and 7800 South, another on Redwood Rd and about 8400 South, and others. Some of these neighborhoods are going to end up being less desirable in the long run than an otherwise well-maintained apartment complex might have been.

I will continue to advocate for smart development in our city. That means density near major transportation corridors where it makes sense (Mountain View Freeway interchanges, Bangerter Highway, Redwood Road, for example), and not where it doesn’t make sense, like high density condo complexes in the middle of less dense neighborhoods). I’ll continue to advocate for neighborhoods, and not just rooftops. And I’ll critically examine every application that comes before the council for unintended consequences that could have disastrous long term implications for our city. I’ll also work to redefine terms in our code so that when an application comes through for “medium density housing”, everyone is on the same page as to exactly what is being discussed.

I have always been a firm believer that the government that is closest to the people governs best. There is a fine balance that has to be struck between taking advantage of economies of scale (i.e. does every city need its own bomb squad, or could cities band together and share a bomb squad with members from each city’s police department?) and the inherent right to self-determination. It’s vitally important that the elected officials of West Jordan stand up for the rights of the citizens of our city to determine the needs and wants we as a community want to prioritize.

In order for our city to be effective at this, it’s vitally important that our elected and appointed officials have a good working relationship with the state legislature, the county council and mayor’s office, and other cities in our region, so that we can effectively communicate and get the funding and infrastructure we need in order to have the quality of life our residents deserve.