Deedee Corradini's advice to young women wanting to make a difference in politics: Go get a job.
"Without the kind of experience I've had, I could not do what I'm doing as mayor," she said. "I tell kids, `Go have a career.' "The Salt Lake mayor worked both in business and politics before becoming mayor in 1992. She was a press secretary to Wayne Owens when he was a congressman, and she was a special assistant to Richard Ottinger, a representative from New York. She was also chairwoman, chief executive officer and president of Bonneville Associates, a related company to the now-notorious Bonneville Pacific.
That experience in business was invaluable to what she's doing now, she said.
"The city really is a business," she said. "It's a nonprofit business, but it's a business. Police, fire, the airport, water, sewer, garbage - by definition a city does certain things."
Indeed, Corradini is a business-oriented mayor, encouraging development, attracting private firms. Though she is a Democrat, she is widely seen in many respects as having traditionally Republican views.
Though she is a woman, the issue of gender has not come up much in her political career.
"I really did not feel as though it was an issue, because I was already fairly well-known among the community, at least among the opinion leaders," she said. Rather than gender, "the critical thing for young women is that they have done things in the community."
It's safe to say that Corradini won't be remembered primarily for her gender. As much as she would like to be known for revitalizing downtown or the Gateway area, or planting many new trees along city streets, or any other numerous things she mentions when asked about her accomplishments, at least among the general public she will likely be remembered primarily for the controversies that have swirled around her during her 61/2 years as mayor - Bonneville Pacific and Giftgate.
Corradini settled a claim from a Bonneville Pacific bankruptcy trustee for $800,000 in return for not being prosecuted in the fraud-ladent matter. To prop up her diminished finances, she asked for and got, $231,000 in gifts and loans from wealthy Utahns and others, many of whom had dealings with the city.
People have strong feelings about Corradini. Some love her and say she's a great mayor who has injected new life into Salt Lake City. Others hate her and say she's a crook who deserves to be kicked out.
Corradini attributes some of that vehemence to being Salt Lake City's first woman mayor.
"For the first time in my career, I have felt I have had a tougher time because I was a woman," she said. "There has been a tendency for folks to challenge me: `Gee, is she really tough enough?' They wanted to test me."
She will probably be tested again. Though she says she hasn't decided whether to run again in 1999 (she's in her second term), Corradini has dropped numerous hints that she would like to be around when the Olympic Winter Games arrive in 2002.
Part of the vehemence may be due to the fact that Corradini doesn't back down from a fight. When accused, her natural reaction is to raise the barricades and duke it out rather than roll over.
Take, for example, her choice of pet. Not some fluffy cat or cute little rabbit for her - no, Corradini owns a Rottweiler.