CITY COUNCIL, DISTRICT 4
Name: Nancy Saxton
Occupation: Salt Lake City councilwoman
Previous political experience: Currently serving second four-year term on the Salt Lake City Council. Also served on citywide zoning rewrite committee; Community Development Block Grants committee; and East Central Community Council as chairwoman, vice chairwoman, treasurer, neighborhood representative and executive board member.
• Why do you want to represent District 4 on the Salt Lake City Council?
There is no textbook on how to do the job of City Council. I bring to the position who I am and what I know. What I know is Salt Lake City, its government and District 4's diverse neighborhoods. I've been active in the city and my own neighborhood for 21 years. For the last eight years as your Salt Lake City councilwoman representing the heart of the city, I have developed a keen understanding of the depth and the breadth of the workings of city government.
In the past eight years while on the City Council, I have put forward some 30 initiatives and ordinances to improve neighborhoods and quality of life for us all. Many of these are ordinances today. The point of the election is to figure out who can be counted on to get the job done. I am a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done kind of leader. I have not flip-flopped. I have not sold out for influence.
For the past eight years on the City Council, my approach to decision-making has been to keep an open and questioning mind. I have never sold my vote or caved in to special interest groups. One of my constituents said of me, "When Nancy says something, you can take it to the bank."
I am never going to be the favored candidate of the insiders and power brokers. I listen to you, the taxpayers of Salt Lake City. I do not assume to have all the answers, and so I ask continually for constituents' ideas. I actively seek out and talk with those who may be impacted by the decisions that are before the City Council. My intention is to do what is right for our neighborhoods and the city. I am willing to speak up and often. I'm asking for your voice and your vote on Nov. 6 for Nancy Saxton for City Council.
• What do you see as the largest issue for District 4 and how do you propose to tackle it?District 4 truly is the heart of Salt Lake City. The east boundary is the University of Utah, all the way to I-15 on the West, and then from South Temple to 900 South. My district is extremely diverse and is going through enormous change. The following are some of the elements that make up the great diversity within District 4:
There are wonderfully established residential neighborhoods
Five historic districts
A very high transient dependent population
Home to the first transit corridor
The termination of all three TRAX lines and the Intermodal Hub
100 South from 200 East to 1300 East is the most dense residential corridor in the state. It provides much of the subsidized housing in the area.
The historic City and County Building (my home away from home)
The $1 billion City Creek project
The Road Home shelter and highest number of social service providers
A wonderful mix of single-family and multifamily rental dwellings
Fast-growing, high-end condominium development
Lots of retail, national chains and thriving locally owned "one-of-a-kind" stores
The Delta Center (oops ... you know what I mean)
Salt Palace Convention Center
Gateway mall and development
Six state highways
Big, wide streets and lots of traffic.
To make a long story better: If it is happening in Salt Lake, it is always happening in City Council District 4. There is no place I would rather be!
Now what's the question? I'm asked to choose just one issue. We must have a mass-transit system that works for all Salt Lake City residents. If we are going to reduce emissions to clean up our air quality, we must get out of our cars. Fifty percent of the air pollution is caused from cars' exhaust. A reliable mass-transit system must be available for all Salt Lake City residents. The Utah Transit Authority seems to be systematically reducing bus service in Salt Lake City. With this last bus route redesign, nearly 25 percent of our bus lines were eliminated. I was successful in getting five of the lines reinstated and an additional $1.5 million in funding reinstated for the downtown bus service area. This year during the budget discussion, I proposed funding a local bus circulator for the east downtown area. The City Council assured me that they would take another serious look at funding a local bus service this next budget year. I will continue to encourage bus ridership along with the fixed rail (TRAX) option of mass transit in Salt Lake City.
• Salt Lake voters will decide whether to approve bonding for up to $192 million to pay for the new public safety facilities. Do you support this bond, and why or why not?
I have come to understand and believe that the public safety building, which is home for the police and fire operations, is grossly substandard in its general structure and operations. Its inability to function as a command center during catastrophic events puts the public at further risk of harm and injury during such an episode. The limitations of the existing building frustrate and even hamper the day-to-day service to the citizens of Salt Lake City. I believe that a new facility is required to meet the ever-increasing safety needs of our citizens and those who work and visit Salt Lake daily.
Less than two years ago, during initial discussions to the City Council by the administration, the cost estimates were $98 million. Waiting does not appear to be a good strategy for the public safety building and additional fire stations. I have been assured by the administration and the police and fire chiefs the needs are immediate. A property-tax bond is generally used for large (or in this case, gigantic) public building projects. It allows for low interest on the loan as it is repaid. If the public votes "no" to use property tax as a method of repayment of the loan to build the public safety buildings, then general fund dollars will need to be used as the collateral and the repayment method. If the City Council is forced to fund the public safety building out of the general fund, then it will be difficult to fund and meet our ongoing budget obligations.
I do support the passing of this bond.
• Plans for the LDS Church's City Creek Center development call for a skybridge across Main Street to connect shopping areas on the second level of the outdoor mall. The City Council amended the city's master plan to allow for such projects to be considered. What is your opinion of skybridges in general and specifically for the City Creek project? If elected, will you support the skybridge being built?
I am not a fan of the skybridge. I do see that due to the natural grade change on Main Street between South Temple and 100 South, a two-story design for retail becomes inevitable for the City Creek project. Ground level and fluid movement needs to be provided for shoppers' convenience and shop owners' success. There are two different ground levels on these blocks. The developers maintain that the skybridge will also allow for 6 acres of outdoor open space to be included in their design.
The City Creek development will significantly influence the direction of downtown Salt Lake City. It must interact and enhance the rest of downtown. It sets the tenor for walkability in the whole of downtown. The design needs to enhance the Main Street experience by encouraging pedestrians to meander and stroll in and out of our new and existing business and retail on Main Street. City Creek's outside design must meet and enhance the porous transparency of existing downtown retail streetscape.
In my opinion, the decision on the skybridge has everything to do with the design of the project. After the plans are presented and signed off by the administration, then the Planning Commission will critique the design, require any changes and approve the final plans. It is at that point that the City Council will be presented the City Creek plan. If all of the master plan design guidelines and elements are satisfied and if the open space is maintained, then I would be in favor of permitting a skybridge.
• The City Creek Center development is seen as a significant step toward the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake City. What other steps need to be taken to achieve that goal?
There are many titillating ideas for downtown Salt Lake City. Art, culture and entertainment are an obvious must. It's the specifics that are a daunting challenge. I am supportive of an arts and culture block. Locating them in one local block is to everyone's advantage. An obvious block is where the Capitol Theatre is located. Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency have already successfully partnered to buy property on this block to start moving forward. This partnership will reach out to the state of Utah and private investment for an establishment of an art and culture block.
More housing in the downtown area has added significantly to the vitality of Salt Lake City. As an entertainment district is established, zoning will need to be progressive for the entertainment while being protective of the residential areas. Our history, streetscape, historical buildings, clean air, breathtaking vistas, safe and walkable environments must always take top billing to any development ideas in our downtown.
Establishing a multi-ethnic district will give homage to our multi-ethnic roots and citizens. Continuing the festivals, parades and special events in downtown is always a special draw.
• A Dan Jones & Associates survey commissioned by Salt Lake City showed that 78 percent of city residents say Pioneer Park should be renovated to become a more welcoming place. How do you propose to accomplish that?
The redevelopment and redesign of Pioneer Park is under way. I have supported $2 million of improvements for Pioneer Park. The City Council unanimously funded this money over a year ago to upgrade the park. Through my continuing discussion with the downtown neighbors and business owners, these improvements are regarded as welcome elements. The features were funded with the urban dweller in mind. The bocce, volleyball and playground areas are already inviting and used regularly. The sidewalk is freed up for pedestrians only, while the two proposed inside paths will be for exercise, roller-skating or skateboarding and have their own surface. The off-leash dog area that I suggested four years ago for the park is being constructed as I write this. These new elements coupled with persistent and creative police enforcement promises "backyard fun, in your own front yard," Pioneer Park.
• Why should voters choose you over your opponent to represent District 4 on the Salt Lake City Council?
The following are some of the reasons that voters in this district should vote Nancy Saxton:
Constituent advocacy: I know Salt Lake City, I know Salt Lake government and I know our neighborhoods. I am responsive to my constituents. I return their calls and inquiries usually within 24 hours. I am a strong, steady advocate with my constituents when they want assistance through the city processes. I am often informing them about city ordinances and policies. Because of my vast experience, I can quickly guide them to the departments and personnel that will help them with their concerns and needs.
Budget responsibility: This is one my primary responsibilities as an elected city councilwoman. More than half of my time over the past eight years on the City Council has been in oversight and appropriation of the city budget of over $500 million. Operating a successful business of my own for 20 years has put into perspective prioritizing operation expenses and respect for hard-earned money. Prior to being elected to the City Council, I was appointed by two mayors to serve on the Community Development Advisory Board. In CDAC, we were responsible for making recommendations for millions of federal funds for Salt Lake's numerous and well-deserved nonprofit organizations. I worked with this very large budget for seven years before being elected to the City Council. This was wonderful preparation for the responsibilities I would face each day as your City Council representative. These past 21 years of interfacing with the community needs and agencies programs has yielded eight years of good policy decisions and efficient budget expenditures. I think it's important to note that in all my time at debates with my opponent, I have not heard him speak of any budget experience.
Getting it done: District 4 is the heart of the city. If it's happening anywhere in the city, it's happening in District 4. The diverse nature of the different neighborhoods and their unique issues require nearly full-time energy for this part-time position. I attend all of the community and neighborhood council meetings each month, of which there are six for a total of sometimes 15 hours each month. The ordinances that are passed first have a life in subcommittee meetings of which I serve on seven at this time (usually I serve on more). This adds up to usually 3 to 5 hours per week. Then there are boards and commissions made up of elected officials throughout the county and/or state. And, of course, the constituent contacts, e-mails, phone calls and appointments often 3+ hours a day. Then there is what we really get paid for, the City Council meetings and preparation for policies that are enacted for a total of 10+ hours each week. No need
feeling sorry for me. I enjoy doing this, knowing I'm serving all of you. I am enlivened in the public process. For me, it's like being close to divine when neighbors and citizens come together to face an enormous issue and then through collaboration bring about a magical outcome usually a solution that no one individually had thought of.
I have had flexible time over the past eight years to devote to the important responsibilities of my elected office. I look forward to the time each day that I get to serve all of you. I'm willing and eager to face the challenges in the next four years to continue to move Salt Lake City ahead.