In yet another tit for tat in the gubernatorial race, Ted Wilson held a press conference Friday afternoon to trumpet his record on economic development in reply to Gov. Norm Bangerter's criticisms at a morning press conference.
Locale was everything in both conferences. Wilson held his conference on the bustling Main Street square in the center of town, pointing to all of the downtown offices built during his term as mayor of Salt Lake City.Bangerter held his Friday morning conference on Third South in downtown Salt Lake City, using the vacant store fronts behind him to emphasize his assertion that Wilson is responsible for the demise of the city's southern business district.
At the heart of the scenery war is the question of which man will do the most for Utah's economic growth.
Wilson used his forum to emphasize the differences between his nine-point economic development plan and Bangerter's track record. He also chided Bangerter for the manner of his attack Friday morning.
"I think he sunk to a new low today in his attack on me," Wilson said. "It could divert from the debate on schools and jobs."
Bangerter's choice of location was a low blow, Wilson said. "He could have chosen to come down here where we did - a place that shows people and vitality." Instead, Bangerter chose Third South, "where we do have a problem. I don't deny it," Wilson said.
But Bangerter didn't give Wilson credit for the good things he did in his administration, Wilson said. The Sheraton/Red Lion hotel, Marriott hotel, American Towers and Multi-Ethnic Centers were built during his administration, Wilson said.
Considerable commercial and retail space was constructed during his term, Wilson said. He cited the American Plazas I, II and III; Valley Bank Tower; United Bank Building; First Interstate Building; Crossroads Plaza; Heber M. Wells building; Triad Center; City Center; 257 Towers; and buildings on 185 S. State and 215 S. State.
Over 2,285,000 square feet of office space was built during Wilson's administration, according to statistics compiled by Wilson's staff.
The assessed valuation of the combined office buildings totals $3 billion.
In addition, hotels and other housing brought 1,600 rooms to Salt Lake City, valued at $150 million.
Bangerter asserted that there was no difference between Wilson's economic plan and his own performance, Wilson said. But Wilson disagrees.
Wilson intends to close the capital gap for Utah businesses, something Bangerter hasn't done, he said. He will also stimulate the economy by giving employment tax credits to Utah businesses. Wilson also plans to help communities focus their resources. There has been a lack of community focus under Bangerter, he said.
"There are great differences between us," he said. "If his plan had been so good, he wouldn't have had to call a press conference on Third South and degrade my efforts. I think he was trying to tear me down to his level of economic development. But it simply doesn't wash. The people of Salt Lake City and Utah know I did a good job."