As some 170 mayors from the nation's biggest cities - including the likes of New York, Washington, D.C., and Detroit - gather in Salt Lake City this weekend to start a six-day conference, it is a chance for the city to promote its image with more than just slogans.

Of course, there'll be slogans aplenty, from "Utah, a pretty, great state," to "This is the place - again" as the 56th annual U.S. Conference of Mayors assembles to share problems, experiences, and advice.While not a large gathering, with only 170 mayors, about 600 of their staff members, and a number of out-of-state journalists, the occasion is a high-powered one. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis recognizes that fact and is coming to make a speech.

The city, already "too clean" according to some observers - a criticism that Salt Lake area residents will gladly accept - has been polished, painted, and spruced up even more for the event.

The impression the community makes on its big-city visitors, particularly the journalists, will go a long way toward building the kind of image that Utah will have in other parts of the country.

In addition to the image issue, the conference will focus on the kinds of problems that Salt Lake City must wrestle with, if not on the same scale as some of the cities represented at the meeting.

Let's hope the conference, which will last into June 15, will be an informative, pleasant, and rewarding experience for the visitors, and that they will feel welcome in our midst.

Salt Lakers can help make that happen by being their usual friendly and helpful selves.