Having lived in Salt Lake County Council’s District 1 for 54 of his 60 years, Cal Noyce has had a lot of time to get to know its neighborhoods and its people. Many of them, in fact, were among his most raucous supporters at the Salt Lake County Democratic Convention earlier this month. And many more have endorsed his campaign for the coveted council seat, the Democratic nomination for which Noyce will face challenger Arlyn Bradshaw in a June 22 primary election.
Noyce said it’s this connection to the community — and the current political trend favoring candidates who are new to governing bodies — that make him the stronger candidate.
“I think what I bring to the county council is a connection to the people. I’m not part of the county council insider group,” he said. “I’ve known [current District 1 councilman] Joe Hatch for years. I’ve known [at large councilmembers] Randy Horiuchi and Jim Bradley for years. I know [at large councilwoman] Jenny Wilson because all those folks have come to me seeking [labor] endorsements over the years.”
“But at the same time I think in the political climate we have now people are saying we don’t want those four to five term folks in office anymore,” he added.
Like Bradshaw, Noyce is also openly gay, a fact which makes this a historic primary in Utah politics. Before his 2010 campaign he served gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans in an area where their concerns are often neglected or outright ignored: organized labor. He is the founder of the Utah Coalition of LGBT Union Activists and Supporters co-founder of Pride at Work, a constituency group of the American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations which officially became a part of the organization in 1999 after a somewhat long road to recognition. Among other things, the group advocates against anti-gay and anti-transgender employment discrimination and for labor contracts that include equal health care benefits and leave of absence standards.
“Union folks are always interested in organizing the unorganized,” he said. “[In the 1990s] a lot of LGBT people I talked to didn’t associate labor unions with getting rights as gay and lesbian people and I thought we needed to do something to start reaching out to that community.”
Naturally, Noyce plans on bringing this experience to the Salt Lake County Council seat if he wins the primary and the November election. Here, he said he will make sure that the county keeps its recently-enacted ordinances that prohibit housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“If we lose the Democratic majority [in the council] there’s a possibility they could be changed,” he said.
Noyce said that he did not have plans to pursue any other gay or transgender-related ordinances if elected to office. Rather, he said continuing dialogue and relationships with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender constituents and with city and county officials is the best next step in making Salt Lake County a more friendly place for its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.
“I was young once too and wanted everything and wanted it yesterday, but I’ve learned because of my experience in politics that isn’t the way it happens generally,” he said. “You’ve got to start making the network with people and through education you get people to see that gay rights isn’t the issue, equal rights is. It should be no different for the LGBT community than it is for the straight community. But that isn’t something that you do [overnight]. That also ties into the labor movement where there’s a time and place for picketing outside a building and there’s the time when you’re sitting in a conference room and working issues out.”
True to his labor background, one of Noyce’s main concerns is the counties’ workers. In bad economies, he said, layoffs are the first things that employers consider.
“That’s not the answer,” he said.
He is also focused on development and redevelopment in his district, which encompasses most of Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake City.
“The county’s always been good with recreational facilities,” he said. “I would continue that because I think that’s helping economic development.”
When it comes to the question of development in District 1 — particularly towards the wetlands-heavy north end of the Salt Lake Valley — Noyce said that he will be careful if elected to balance environmental needs with economic growth. For example, he sees potential in a proposal to build soccer fields in this area.
“There are a lot of family businesses out this way. I think soccer fields going in out there would mean that people will be coming to games, which will bring money to the area,” he said.
However, Noyce added he is conscious that the land near the airport and in the Rose Park area floods easily and that preservation is an important issue. To that effect, he said that an alternate candidate for development could be Swede Town, the informal name for the area near Beck St. and Victory Rd. on the valley’s west side.
“To me that’s an area where redevelopment could take place with residents’ permission,” he said. “Right off Beck St. would be great for access to get downtown or to go north to catch I-15.”
In addition to serving in a number of other community-related posts, including as vice president of the Jordan Meadows Community Council, and a former board member of the United Way and member of the Salt Lake Police Civilian Review Board, Noyce is also known for bringing his community together in other ways. Recently, he brought his neighborhood together to create a park. Here, veterans, boy scouts and members of Colors for Change, a group for at-risk youth, laid sod and planted trees.
“That gives you ownership,” he said. “It becomes your park which means you’re more likely to take care of it.”
If elected, he plans on getting people involved in the daily business of government as well.
“This isn’t a stepping stone for me to someday run for the Congress or governor,” said Noyce. “I’m 60 years old, I’m on the downhill side of life. This is something that, as other people have pointed out to me, where maybe I can help make a difference for a term or two and that would be it. I don’t have any misconceptions about my political ambitions.”
Visit Cal Noyce online at calnoyce.com.