Name: David L. Buhler
Occupation: Associate commissioner for public affairs, Utah System of Higher Education
• Why do you want to be the next mayor of Salt Lake City?
Because I have the experience, ability and vision to be the best mayor for the people of Salt Lake City. I have worked on city issues every day the past eight years and want to continue and build upon the progress we've made in protecting and enhancing our residential neighborhoods, reducing crime, expanding open space and encouraging the redevelopment of downtown. Progress has been made in each of these areas, but much more needs to be done. I am best prepared to provide the leadership our city needs. I am a doer, not a dreamer. I have a track record of effectiveness on the City Council, in the Legislature and as an executive in business and state government. I have also been a teacher or leader in higher education for the past 17 years.
• What is your opinion of the job Rocky Anderson has done in his two terms as mayor? What aspects of his leadership, if any, will continue in the office if you are elected? In what ways do you envision your administration differing from Anderson's?
I have served on the City Council the entire time that Rocky Anderson has been mayor. He is a passionate advocate for the causes in which he believes. And on city issues, I have supported him when I felt he was right and stood up to him when I felt he was wrong. While a passionate and sometimes effective advocate, he is not an effective executive or manager. And, unfortunately, too often he has been a divisive figure in our community, such as when he has picked unnecessary fights with our neighboring communities or the state Legislature. Nor has he ever really understood how to work with the City Council.
However, I applaud Mayor Anderson for his environmental initiatives related to Salt Lake City and have supported them as a council member. For example, requiring city buildings to be LEED certified, changing zoning ordinances to allow residents to xeriscape their yards, putting more alternate fueled vehicles in Salt Lake City's fleet, expanding and improving our recycling program, acquiring and protecting more open space. I would build upon the progress we've made. For example, I am proposing that we develop a secondary water system for irrigating west-side parks and golf courses and eventually for the northwest quadrant to recycle and conserve water.
As mayor, I will go to work everyday at City Hall and be focused 100 percent on doing the city's business. I will work effectively with our City Council and the state Legislature, as well as listen to and be responsive to our residents in every neighborhood. I will use my administrative skills and management experience to ensure that Salt Lake City government operates more effectively and efficiently. And I will support our police and fire department so they can do an even better job protecting our community.
• Salt Lake City voters will decide whether to approve bonding for up to $192 million to pay for new public safety facilities. Do you support this bond, and why or why not?
I strongly support it. It will replace critical infrastructure for the protection of our community. I am concerned about the price tag, however. The $192 million is an authorization to spend up to that amount. It must be viewed as a ceiling and not as a floor. If the bond passes, as mayor I will work diligently to make sure that every dollar is necessary and bring the cost down as much as I can without jeopardizing the functionality of the facilities being built.
• 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 as part of the City Creek project? If elected, will you support the skybridge being built?
I support this skybridge. The restrictions and conditions approved by the City Council will ensure that it does not detract from Main Street while at the same time making the City Creek project more accessible. It is critical to the success of this project. As mayor, I will encourage and facilitate private investment, not repel it. This is still an important issue since the action taken by the City Council merely allows a request to take place and outlines the conditions that must be met for approval. This will still need to go through the Planning Commission and then to the City Council for final approval. Thus the position of the candidates for mayor is important for voters to know and understand. Generally, I do not wish to see a proliferation of skybridges, which is why the master plan amendment as approved by the council, which I supported, is a very narrow exception to our overall policy.
• 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?
This is a huge gift, in many ways, to the city an unprecedented private investment. I will make sure the development process goes smoothly and will be proactive to make sure that the rest of downtown does not die during this period. Further, I will be focused on retaining and attracting businesses downtown. We also need to continue to encourage more housing downtown, and I will work tirelessly to implement the goals of the Downtown Rising plan. And we need to bring back the Utah Theater District and come up with a viable plan for a downtown Broadway-style theater. We also need to continue to address transportation downtown, including completing the airport light-rail line in a way that benefits rather than hurts downtown and west-side neighborhoods, and creating a downtown circulator that allows people to get around town without driving and parking.
• 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?
As the recent events at Pioneer Park show, we need stronger leadership and innovative efforts to deal with crime at Pioneer Park, which is why several weeks ago I proposed putting crime cameras there to deter crime. We also need to support a strong police presence and encourage the Salt Lake County Council to fund opening jail beds that remain vacant. Too often our police department arrests drug dealers who are booked into the county jail only to be released a few hours later because of the county's unwillingness to open up all of the jail beds that were paid for by Salt Lake County taxpayers (the largest share coming from Salt Lake City taxpayers). This must change.
As a member of the City Council, I have strongly supported the Farmers Market at Pioneer Park and also putting over $1 million into park improvements (which are under construction right now). These improvements include an off-leash dog area, which will be very positive for the park. The real problem, however, is not infrastructure, but crime. I will clean up Pioneer Park and eliminate the large crime presence that plagues it.
• Salt Lake City has taken significant strides to becoming a "green city" during Mayor Anderson's two terms in office. Is it your intention to continue that movement, and if so, how?
I have supported Salt Lake City's efforts to become a "green city" and will build upon the progress we've made. For example, as a City Council member I supported increasing energy efficiency in city buildings, acquiring more open space and protecting our foothills, expanding and improving our curbside recycling program including expanding it next spring to include green waste, requiring LEED certification of city buildings and private projects that receive city money, changing zoning ordinances to allow for xeriscaping, to name a few of the most prominent. In addition, I took the lead in addressing a groundwater contamination issue in my council district east of the Harvard-Yale area. I will continue and build upon all of these efforts.
Specifically, I am proposing that we develop a secondary water system to recycle and conserve water by using some of the 33 million gallons a day of treated wastewater that is currently discharged into the Great Salt Lake for irrigation of parks and golf courses and to be used as the northwest quadrant is developed. I also support mass transit, including a Sugar House trolley and encouraging bicycling, and I oppose any further building east of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. For more specifics, see my environmental "to do" list on my Web site, www.DaveForMayor.org.
• What plans do you have to reach out to the diverse population of Salt Lake City, specifically minority populations on the city's west side?
Salt Lake City is becoming more diverse in neighborhoods throughout the city, not exclusively on the west side. We are a welcoming city, with generous and accepting people. The city needs to do a better job in reaching out to diverse communities, and particularly refugee populations, to make sure they know where they can find the services they need. My administration and appointments to city boards and commissions will reflect the diversity of our city.
• What can be done to encourage retail development on the city's west side?
First, having a mayor who is proactive, actually cares about and listens to west-side residents, and who is focused on economic development and attracting rather than repelling business. I will be that kind of mayor. Second, making sure that the airport line of TRAX is built, which will result in great opportunities for making North Temple a major corridor for retail, housing and other uses. Third, encouraging appropriate development of other housing opportunities on the west side to increase the population (and number of potential shoppers), including careful development of the northwest quadrant west of Salt Lake City International Airport. Sometimes retailers have been reluctant to locate on the west side because there is not the population base there that exists on the east side. And finally, I will use all of the economic development tools available to the city to encourage and attract appropriate development including retail for our west-side neighborhoods.
• Why should voters choose you over your opponent to be the next mayor of Salt Lake City?
I am a reasonable guy who gets things done. For the past eight years, as a member and leader of the City Council, I have worked every day on the broad range of issues important to Salt Lake City residents. And I have been successful in getting many things done for the betterment of our neighborhoods and community as a whole. I am pleased to be openly supported by three members of the City Council, who know that I am best prepared to be the next mayor of Salt Lake City and that I will build upon the progress we've made the past eight years. I have experience as an executive both in state government and in business. The mayor's role is an executive position, and we need someone who knows how to manage, motivate and lead to make our city government work more effectively. I also served in the state Senate, where I built a record of effectiveness. I will repair relations with the Legislature and our neighboring communities. Salt Lake City needs a doer in the mayor's office, and that is me.