Salt Lake City Council race heats up

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The Salt Lake City Council is one of the most progressive and queer-friendly in the state. This year, Districts 2, 4 and 6 are electing representatives, and some of the biggest issues are public safety, city planning and economic development. QSaltLake asked the six candidates to answer questions about why they’re running and what issues are most important to them. Early voting begins Oct. 25, and Election Day is Nov. 4. To find your polling location, go to SLCGov.com. Van Turner from District 2 and Jack Gray from District 4 declined the opportunity to comment.

District 2
Kyle La Malfa

What made you decide to run for Salt Lake City Council?

Over the past few years I’ve been working for west side neighborhoods, building partnerships within the community, with the city and with various groups interested in improving the quality of life on the west side. As People’s Market and other projects became successful, I began to think of how the city could build better partnerships in terms of education, public safety, local business, and our parks and open spaces. The west side needs a strong advocate in city government. We need a progressive voice who will speak out for what’s right for both our west side neighborhoods and the city as a whole.

What political/leadership background do you have?

I sit on seven government and non-profit boards and commissions at the neighborhood, city, county and state levels. While I started with People’s Market to bring a farmer’s market to the west side, I now work on a wide range of issues, including open space and urban agriculture, better services for the homeless and low-income populations, and more after-school programs.

I’m most proud of my work that makes a difference on the west side, such as Mountain View Community Learning Center, which supports the families of elementary students; University Neighborhood Partners, which helps kids get into college; Westside Leadership Institute, which seeks to cultivate new leaders on the west side; and People’s Market, which brings more than $100,000 of economic activity to the west side each year.

What issue(s) are you most concerned about right now?

I’m most concerned about issues of education, public safety, parks and open space, and local business and development. In each of these areas, I’m concerned about an equitable allocation of resources and how we can build better partnerships between the city and the community to find new ways of addressing long-standing concerns.

Safety is a big concern right now for Utah’s queer community. What steps would you take to ensure the safety of Salt Lake City residents and visitors?

The Salt Lake City Police Association endorsed me, in part, because they believe my commitment to public safety is stronger and that I’m the candidate who can bring people together to address public safety concerns.

Although any act of violent crime is abhorrent, hate-crime attacks deserve particular attention. Salt Lake City must stand strong against hate crimes and be a model for other cities to follow. The steps that we must take include establishing better dialogue in our communities to build tolerance, and working to build partnerships between police and the community so together we can find ways to ensure that all residents and visitors are safe.

The boundaries for the school board will be considered by the next council. Do you see a need to make any significant changes? Why or why not?

While redistricting gets a lot of attention at the federal and state levels, the Salt Lake City School Board redistricting process is critical and I do feel the boundaries need significant changes.

The same way we want equal representation for house and senate seats, school board members ought to represent an equal number of students. Right now, school board representation is way out of balance. The west side has nearly half the students, but only gets to elect two of seven school board members. I would like to bring more balanced representation to the school-board precincts so that the unique educational needs of all the kids in our city.

Do you have any other words for QSaltLake readers?

Salt Lake City is home to many members of our LGBT community and as Utah’s capital city, we set the example for the rest of the state.  If elected, QSaltLake readers can count on me for a progressive voice in the City Council, one that values diversity and equality, and one who will always look to partner with our LGBT residents to make a stronger community on the west side and throughout Salt Lake City.


District 4
Luke Garrott

 How long have you been serving on the city council and what do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment?

I am finishing my first term representing District 4.  I’m proud of a number of accomplishments. I’m very proud to have been part of the council which passed the nondiscrimination ordinance for sexual orientation and gender identity in housing and employment.  Also important was the Complete Streets ordinance, which makes sure that the city include pedestrian and bike amenities whenever we recondition a road.  On the protective side, I’ve helped prevent the Public Safety Building on Library Square and opposed the Northwest Quadrant Master Plan that would have licensed suburban sprawl west of the airport.

What issue(s) will be most important in the coming years for your district?

Quality growth.  We need to be able to add population in ways that don’t eat up open space.  The answer is adding density around TRAX stops and trolley lines and redeveloping parking lots and mini-malls.

Safety is a big concern right now for Utah’s queer community. What steps would you take to ensure the safety of Salt Lake City residents and visitors?

The police can’t be everywhere, so we have to look out for each other.  I’m very impressed at how people responded to the hate crime near Club Sound.  City government, police and community members need to make strong, persistent statements that our city does not tolerate any behavior that threatens the safety of any of our citizens.

What steps have you taken, and will you take, to ensure a green and sustainable future for Salt Lake City?

I’ve been a strong supporter of the mayor’s sustainability initiatives.  A particular area of interest for me has been local agriculture and enabling more production and markets.  Local food is incredibly healthy.  It nourishes bodies, grows community and bolsters regional economies.

Do you have any other words for the QSaltLake readers?

Thanks for helping make Salt Lake a great city!


District 6

Charlie Luke

What made you decide to run for Salt Lake City Council?

I have spent most of my career working to increase public involvement in the political process.  I believe that one of the most important responsibilities of public service is to listen to and encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas with their elected officials. When stories about my opponent arguing with, and berating, constituents were regularly documented by the press, I realized that a change of leadership was needed in Salt Lake City’s District 6. As a small business owner who lobbies the Utah Legislature primarily for providers of services for people with disabilities, my professional experience in government relations is extremely beneficial, having taught me how to work with diverse groups, find common ground and develop solutions to complex problems.  This skill-set will allow me to work toward solutions to the many issues impacting District 6 and Salt Lake City.

What political/leadership background do you have?

I have managed and consulted on many campaigns in Utah, including those for Scott Leckman for U.S. Senate, Rocky Anderson for Salt Lake City mayor, the 2000 public transportation sales-tax campaign in Salt Lake, Davis and Weber Counties, and bonded campaigns for the Salt Lake City open space fund, Hogle Zoo, the Leonardo, and the Children’s Museum.  I currently serve on the Salt Lake City Planning Commission, and am a board member of Voices for Utah Children.  For the past seven years, I have operated a successful government relations firm representing various clients in Utah and several surrounding states.

What issue(s) are you most concerned about right now?

Salt Lake City and District 6 are wonderful places to live, but some important issues have been neglected.  During my campaign, I have worked to redirect attention and focus toward our infrastructure, public safety, neighborhood business development and transportation.  While these may not be the most exciting issues, they are the responsibility of effective municipal government.  Unfortunately, I believe that they have not received enough focus over the past few years.  As the council member representing District 6, my focus on properly funding and supporting these issues will strengthen the foundation of our city.

Safety is a big concern right now for Utah’s queer community. What steps would you take to ensure the safety of Salt Lake City residents and visitors?

I am very concerned about the recent acts of violence directed at LGBT residents in Salt Lake City. Targeted, hateful violence against members of the LGBT community is absolutely unacceptable. I am honored to have the full support and endorsement of the Salt Lake Police Association. As a council member, I will work closely with the Salt Lake City Police Department to ensure they have the necessary funding to continue supporting programs like the Civilian Review Board and the LGBT Public Safety Committee. It’s the city’s responsibility to provide the funding necessary for the police department to do their jobs without worrying about budget cuts.

Where do you stand on queer issues, such as the nondiscrimination measures?

I am very supportive of full legal equality for every citizen.  I am proud to have participated in the 2011 Pride Parade.  My wife and I had a great time and we look forward to further participation in the future.  While I may not be able to fix all wrongs and injustices as a city council member, I will not shy away from standing with my constituents to encourage broader public acceptance. I strongly support Salt Lake City’s nondiscrimination measures.

Do you have any other words for the QSaltLake readers?

In the September primary, more than 70 percent of District 6 voters cast their ballots against the incumbent.  It’s time for a change in District 6 leadership.  My wife, Karyn, and I chose to live in District 6 because we wanted to raise our kids in a diverse community.  I hope to earn your support of my campaign, and encourage your participation.  Please contact me via my website, votecharlieluke.com if you would like to help.


JT Martin


How long have you been serving on the city council and what do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment?

Since January of 2008 it has been my distinct pleasure to serve with a largely progressive council under a very progressive mayor.  Together, we have pursued an agenda that places LGBTQ interests in their rightful place, directly alongside other major issues facing the city.  As a result, I was privileged to vote with my fellow council members to pass the first of what have become numerous nondiscrimination ordinances throughout our valley.

 What issue(s) will be most important in the coming years for your district?

The quality of life of the residents in District 6 is my highest priority.  Whether that quality of life is affected by traffic, crime, social pressures or economic influences, it is my job to work with the city administration to assure the highest level of municipal services while maintaining a responsible approach to tax-payer dollars.  For many, quality of life is gauged by the measure of acceptance they feel as a part of the community they live in.  Both in my personal life and in my public life I will always make the fostering of acceptance and equality the highest priority.

 Safety is a big concern right now for Utah’s queer community. What steps would you take to ensure the safety of Salt Lake City residents and visitors?

Salt Lake City is a safe place to live and visit.  Among large urban areas in America, we are renowned for the security and safety of all who live here.  Recent statistics show that District 6 is the safest place in Salt Lake City to live.  That said, it is important that the overall safety of our city be addressed in a holistic approach that begins with community involvement and a sense of confidence that allow every resident to have confidence in the justice system.

 Do you support queer-friendly legislation?

Bring it. I already have, and will continue to have, an open door on any good idea.

Do you have any other words for the QSaltLake readers?

Salt Lake City is a great place to live.  In large measure it is the diversity and open approach to life in the city that makes it such a great place.  Like anywhere, things can always improve.  I am committed to spending the next four years, much as I have the last four, looking for ways to make the quality of life here among the best in the nation.  For LGBTQ people, that must include full equality.  Inasmuch as the city has the power to find ways to improve on that goal, count me in.

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One Comment

  1. When asked about safety against hate crimes, these wannabe public servants toss platitudes and nonsensical buzz phrases at us (“stand strong,” “be a model for other cities,” “establish[…] better dialogue,” “build tolerance,” “build partnerships,” “make strong, persistent statements,” “provide the funding necessary,” “holistic approach,” “community involvement” and “sense of confidence”).

    These are hollow words if you are the victim of a hate crime. Oh sure, the words show that they feel our pain about the harm done to us. Good. Done. End of story. But, they fail to do anything more than that.

    Crime-prevention strategies help us to avoid hate crimes before they are committed, nothing more. Hate-crime laws help punish the criminals after they are committed, nothing more. This avoidance and punishment — and meaningless masturbatory chit-chat from politicians — will do nothing to protect the victim of the next hate crime when it is committed.

    The next victim will be injured just as severely by a criminal who hasn’t spent a moment’s consideration about how our public servants have advised that we avoid him or punish his behavior.

    I wish these politicians had said what they would do to help stop hate crimes at the moment the crimes are committed. They didn’t and we applaud them, don’t we? So, who will we blame next time?

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