The Salt Lake City mayoral election arena heated up Friday as candidates Dave Buhler and Rep. Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, fired verbal shots at each other over which has a stronger environmental record.

The exchange was triggered Friday morning by a press conference hosted by Buhler, in which he revealed his latest "to-do" list of projects to complete if he becomes mayor. Using the Salt Lake City Sewage Treatment Plant as a backdrop, Buhler said he plans to "cut the crap" and focus on seven specific environmental projects if he is elected mayor.

The current city councilman also compared his environmental track record with his opponent's, saying Becker's record is not as strong as his own.

"We have the same goal, but the question is, who is most effective?" Buhler said. "(My record) is stronger as far as getting things done."

Buhler referred to helping Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson increase the amount of money voters approved to be spent on open space from $3 million to $5 million as evidence of his effectiveness. He also referred to Becker's legislative record of successfully sponsoring 14 bills that have been made into law in 11 years as showing ineffectiveness.

Buhler was a state representative for four years, and in that time, Buhler says he succeeded in sponsoring 36 bills that became law.

"I think that's an issue there, and I'm going to keep raising that issue," Buhler said. "If people want a mayor who has a track record of getting things done, they should vote for me. I'm going to keep making that case because I think that's a legitimate case to make."

Becker, who previously revealed his own "Blueprint for a Green City" as part of his mayoral campaign, shot back at Buhler's statements, calling the criticisms absurd and reasserting his own environmental agenda.

"It seems that Dave has come out attacking after the primary (election) and seems to be willing to distort my record and make some claims that are a little over the top," Becker said. "To see that he's coming after me for my environmental record just seems absurd."

Buhler said if he is elected mayor, he will create a secondary water system to conserve and recycle water, involve businesses in the city's recycling program, create a downtown glass recycling location and build shower facilities to encourage city employees to walk or bike to work. The candidate also said he plans to work with the USTAR program to retain clean tech companies and coordinate all of the city's environmental programs into one "Office of Sustainability."

Becker said he does not disagree with Buhler's proposal but that the plan is not as "meaningful, comprehensive or substantive" as his own blueprint, which is outlined at www.ralphbecker.com/green-city.

"Protecting the environment and reducing air pollution have been a centerpiece of my campaign for mayor and will be a cornerstone of my administration," Becker said. "I'm confident that voters who are concerned about protecting the environment will pick my candidacy in overwhelming numbers."


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