SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and mayoral challenger J. Allen Kimball fielded questions from the Rotary Club of Salt Lake City Tuesday, revealing little that would forecast a vigorous campaign.

No potshots. No finger pointing. No exploitable political faux pas. The two men responded to questions but did not debate.

When asked what the city could do to maintain jobs, Becker said it's important the city provide the right environment for business. The city's 7 percent unemployment rate needs to keep going down. Becker said reducing the time involved when businesses seek city permits would be an objective if he wins a second term. He'd like to see the turnaround time for permit applications cut in half, and in many cases see applicants get permits approved on the spot.

Kimball said the city needs to take advantage of opportunities to attract new industries on the west side. He mentioned the recent land swap between Kennecott and the LDS Church involving undeveloped land west of the Salt Lake International Airport. "That's a great opportunity for the city, and I hope to take advantage of that."

When the candidates were asked what they would do to promote better air quality, Kimball quipped that more people could ride bicycles, then said he would focus on expediting traffic and alleviating traffic jams.

Becker, chairman of the Wasatch Front Regional Council's Air Quality Committee, said that while industrial polluters, like Kennecott, are highly regulated, private vehicles are both a major pollution source and are among the least regulated sources of air pollution. He said efforts to synchronize traffic signals has been "very unsuccessful."

Becker said education would be more of a focus if he wins a second term. Kimball said that he would promote the airport TRAX line and west-side economic development if elected.


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