Arlyn Bradshaw’s campaign logo isn’t like the typical stars and stripes seen during election years. His posters, T-shirts and stickers all display a spreading, leafy tree done in natural greens and browns. While he chose the plant because of his pro-environmental stance, Bradshaw says that it also symbolizes his campaign for Salt Lake County Council’s coveted District 1 seat.
“The logo also shows the roots of the tree and I think that symbolizes my roots in the community, my desire to spread grass roots involvement in the community and in making our government better,” said Bradshaw, who is facing labor activist Cal Noyce in a June 22 primary. In an unusual turn of events for Utah politics, both contenders are openly gay.
“It kind of takes sexuality off the table in terms of making the decision of who to support. “I think that’s been a benefit of the race because you can look at myself and Cal as to where we stand on the issues.”
For Bradshaw, one of the biggest of the issues is rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender county residents. As the Council Advisor to outgoing council chair (and District 1 councilman) Joe Hatch for the past three years, Bradshaw assisted with passage of three watershed policies in the county’s history: an adult designee program allowing county employees to cover a non-spousal family member (including a same-sex partner) on their health insurance policies, and two resolutions prohibiting job and housing discrimination against gay and transgender county residents.
If he is ultimately elected this November, Bradshaw said he will urge the council not to stop there. He would like to see the creation of a “mutual commitments registry” like that passed in Salt Lake City in 2007 which would give unmarried couples of all sexual orientations proof of cohabitation — proof they can use to get domestic partner benefits from employers who offer them.
Additionally, he would like to put pressure on the federal government to change a law that still trips up unmarried couples on the adult designee program. As Bradshaw explains it, the federal government sees the money employers pay into the insurance premiums of employees’ non-spousal partners as taxable income. Married heterosexual couples, however, don’t face this “imputed value” tax. As the government of one of the 50 largest counties in the country, Bradshaw said that he and other councilors can “lead the charge to get some of our fellow counties on board.
“It’s unfortunate we haven’t taken the lead on it and gotten it changed with the current [Democratic] Congress,” he said.
Bradshaw was a member of the county committee that saw to the implementation of its gay and transgender-inclusive housing and employment ordinances. In addition to protecting these ordinances from legislative challenge, Bradshaw also wants to make sure that they work smoothly if or when a county resident files a complaint against an employer or landlord (so far, none have). He would also like to go a step further in urging county law to go statewide.
“As the largest government in the state other than the state government, I’d like to continue to work with the Legislature in a collaborative way but apply pressure for our state laws to mirror what we’ve been able to do in Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City,” he said. “It’s time for members of the LGBT community who don’t live [in either of these places] to also have the same benefits available go them.” Admitting that this may be a long term goal, he added, “I think our elected gay leaders can really be trailblazers in that area.”
In addition to these protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents, Bradshaw’s website outlines goals in a number of areas covered by county government. These include supporting Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon’s small businesses initiatives, controlling development sprawl, encouraging rehabilitation programs for criminals, and supporting the county’s diversity awareness trainings. If elected, he has also promised to advocate for a number of county services, including those provided by the County Library System, the Salt Lake Valley Health Department and its numerous parks and recreation facilities.
“In terms of the job of a county council member [county services] are the most pertinent issues, but at times voters don’t see those as the most sexy — like paving streets and garbage collection,” he said. “But I want to ensure continued excellence in those services and improvements. When I hear about the pool at Steiner [Aquatics Center] being dirty, I want to change that. I want to be a visible figure to people to that end, to show I will provide constituents services and I will react to their needs for county services.”
And as the tree on his campaign materials suggests, the health of Salt Lake County’s environment is never far from Bradshaw’s mind. One of the things he says he is watching closely now is Salt Lake City’s plans for the northwest quadrant, the lopsided chunk of land that cuts west from the airport, skirts the Kennecot copper mine and ends at 2100 South. Although plans for this area fall under the Salt Lake City Council’s jurisdiction, Bradshaw said that his hopes for the land — which include “no build alternatives” and creating a wetlands reserve — are the same things he wants to see in Salt Lake County. For example, Bradshaw supports the preservation of open space and would like to use voter-approved bond initiatives used to clean up the Jordan River Parkway. He is also a proponent of supporting alternative energy sources, including the use of solar panels in county buildings, like those championed by Corroon, and the use of biofuels.
“What I would like to see long term is that we change the entire county fleet to clean fuel vehicles using biofuels we can produce ourselves on county land as part of an urban farming program,” he said, explaining that such a program (already in its preliminary discussion stages) would encourage the planting of biofuel crops on some open space land. In the meantime, he also supports an anti-idling policy for vehicles in the fleet, as well as expanded public transportation options, such as TRAX routes and bike trails.
“When we talk about the environment and air quality, a big detriment to the air in the [Salt Lake] Valley is automobiles,” he said. “We need to focus on increasing the density of our urban areas and urban renewal — that needs to be our focus for a growing population base.”
With years of political experience, including as the executive director of the Utah Democratic Party, Bradshaw says that he is eager to jump right into council government should he win voters’ favor on June 22.
“I am running because I love Salt Lake City and County and want to use my passion and the knowledge I’ve gained working for county to be effective from day one and move some of these fresh ideas forward to improve our community,” he said. “It is a great place to live and I think we can do more to make it a good place.”
Visit Arlyn Bradshaw’s campaign website at arlynbradshaw.com.