SALT LAKE CITY — As voters enter the final week to turn in primary election ballots, several Salt Lake City Council candidates have focused on infrastructure, community development and homelessness as key issues in their respective neighborhoods.
A primary election is set for Tuesday, with the top two candidates from each race advancing to the Nov. 7 general election.
Councilman James Rogers, who was was first elected in 2013, is seeking re-election amid challenges from Arnold Jones and David Atkin.
Rogers, 39, has pointed to investment in the Utah State Fairpark and the creation of the northwest quadrant development master plan as a model for business and development-oriented growth.
Rogers is a business advocate and has emphasized that District 1— which includes the Rose Park, Jordan Meadows, West Point and Fairpark neighborhoods — is the "gateway to downtown" for visitors to the city and should reflecting modern planning.
Jones, 52, said he wants to focus on downtown development, as well as strengthening relationships between law enforcement and residents. Also, "homelessness is a huge issue," he said.
The owner of a car restoration shop, Atkin's plan for downtown Salt Lake's homeless problem centers on refocusing shelters and resource centers into a place where officials can educate homeless Utahns and help get them off the streets.
Atkin, 54, says on his campaign website that shelters will no longer get "local, state and federal funding just to help these people live."
Phil Carroll, Laura Cushman, Brian Fukushima, Jeffrey Garbett and Chris Wharton are vying for the District 3 seat being vacated by two-term Councilman Sam Penfold. The district includes the Capitol Hill and Greater Avenues neighborhoods.
Wharton, 39, a civil rights attorney and LGBT rights activist, said the city's homeless problem should be dealt with "holistically" through a focus on systemic poverty, crime prevention, mental health services and rehabilitation, and job stability.
He also emphasized the need for local government to organize affordable housing.
Carroll, 73, founder of the affordable housing nonprofit Community Housing Services, said his candidacy is strengthened by his work with affordable housing and experience volunteering at the Road Home.
On his campaign website, Carroll says the city must "directly address the lack of affordable housing" in order to tackle homelessness.
Cushman, 35, has said she wants to provide "short-term and long-term solutions" for homelessness, and her background in providing support services will be useful in balancing the concerns of residents and homeless people, she said.
Cushman, who works at the Jewish Community Center, has made community development a focus of her campaign, championing sustainability, eco-friendly transit and infrastructure improvements that "make citizens feel safer in their decisions to walk or ride their bikes."
Fukushima's experience dealing with homelessness came during his work as an orthopedic surgeon who often treated critically ill homeless patients, he said.
Fukushima, 46, said he wants to expand health resources for the homeless and foster economic growth and opportunities in the area as preventive measures to homelessness.
Garbett, 36, said a key issue for the city's homeless is that it's not feasible to find work while having to wait in line for one of the limited beds at the various homeless shelters and resource centers.
A self-employed real estate developer and entrepenuer, Garbett touted the Other Side Academy as a group that successfully works with homeless Utahns to give them job skills that will help get them off the streets.
Garbett said greater measures need to be taken with crime and homelessness issues to entice both businesses and families to move into the area. He said shelters should have no tolerance for crime or drugs when they take people in.
Incumbent Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall faces challenges from George Chapman, Vance Hansen, Carol Goode-Rogozinski and Benjamin Rosenberg in District 5, which includes the Ballpark, Central City, Liberty Wells and Wasatch Hollow neighborhoods.
Mendenhall, 36, was one of the first opponents of a homeless resource center in Sugar House. On her campaign website, the councilwoman says she would work to create a women's homeless resource center.
Mendenhall, a community activist and environmental advocate, also touts her strong support for the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency's proposal to set aside $21 million for affordable housing, her continued efforts on a citywide transit master plan, and her work to cut "red tape" for businesses in her district.
Chapman, 66, has offered his political comments on his blog, at City Council meetings and in occasional op-eds in the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune.
The retired engineer and Navy officer has said he wants to find areas where the homeless can camp rather than letting them live on the streets. He also said he would push for additional prosecutors to deal with drug dealers that have mixed in with the homeless population.
Chapman also expressed concern that the City Council is making decisions regarding homelessness in secret, and he's submitted public records requests for the details of their closed-door meetings.
Hansen, 48, who has worked in law enforcement and security, said he is running to gain political experience. He said he would like to see more work-placement and training programs for the homeless, as well as increased efforts to separate the "criminal elements" from the homeless community.
Rosenburg, 23, has taken short-, medium- and long-term looks at the issue of homelessness. On his campaign site, Rosenburg outlines the need for an emergency solution to house the overflow population around the city's homeless shelters. He said his medium-term goal is to negotiate for more support from other cities in Salt Lake County, and he plans for more affordable housing in the long term.
Six candidates have filed to fill Councilwoman Lisa Adams' District 7 seat following her decision to not seek re-election. Samantha Finch, Amy Fowler, Ben Haynes, Benjamin Sessions, Jason Sills and Abe Smith all are vying to represent Sugar House.
Finch, 44, describes herself as a political moderate who's focused on environmental issues. She has worked for global financial services and local outdoor retailers.
On her Crowdpac funding page, Finch said she would support developing green spaces over golf courses and updating infrastructure to be more economically and environmentally stable.
Fowler, who works as a public defender, says she wants to take on homelessness through its underlying causes by funding mental health and substance abuse services.
She also says Sugar House's rapid growth has put a strain on its infrastructure, and she would consider impact fees to rebuild aging roads, and sewage, water and power systems.
Fowler, 38, has also proposed providing transit passes for residents as part of their city fees to promote public transit and reduce traffic.
Haynes, a community organizer and former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer, has focused his campaign on constituent engagement and making himself accessible to representing the opinions of his neighbors.
He has said he wants to follow the Growing SLC housing plan to create more affordable housing.
Haynes, 25, also said he would pursue better public transit and ride-sharing incentives, as well as more sustainable buildings to improve air quality in the city.
Sessions, 35, says he wants to prevent parks and public spaces from becoming areas for the homeless and vagrant populations.
He's also discussed working within the current budget to provide more funding for police and fire services.
Sessions, who is a local business developer, said he wants to maintain infrastructure while preserving Sugar House's legacy as a pedestrian-friendly area of businesses and single-family homes.
Smith, a technology strategist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he decided to run for the council seat out of concern that residents in the district are not being heard, and he wants to make sure decisions aren't being made behind closed doors.
Smith, 38, said drugs and crime are visible problems, and dealing with homelessness requires looking at root causes such as substance abuse and mental illness.