Although he might dislike the correlation, Republican Salt Lake City Council candidate Melvin Nimer is following the old Democratic adage, “It’s the economy, stupid!” in his race. Nimer has extensive business and accounting backgrounds and said he will use his experience to help balance the county budget and prioritize the most important details of the budget.
With the very nature of the county likely to be shaped in the upcoming years, including incorporating townships, having a candidate that knows how to prioritize and run a business should be on voters’ minds, Nimer said.
Unlike conventional wisdom would denote, Nimer is an openly gay Republican and is no stranger to Utah politics or running for office. Nimer ran for Senate District 2 in 2010 against current Democratic Salt Lake County mayoral candidate Ben McAdams.
“I wanted to make a difference in my community as well as for myself and my neighbors so I began looking at where I could go and what I could do,” Nimer said.
While often perceived as unfriendly to gays and lesbians, the Utah Republican Party is opening up to queer issues, and Nimer said he has seen enormous progress during his time in the party. He is the chair of the Log Cabin Republicans, a queer caucus within the Republican Party.
“We’ve had very good support from the state party and the county party. We’re good friends with (Utah Republican Party chairman) Thomas Wright and (Salt Lake County Republican Party chairwoman) Julie Dole,” he said. “I think by being involved in the Republican Party, we’ve gained a lot of respect from all of the party people,” Nimer said. “They know I’m openly gay and I don’t hide it. It’s not an issue.”
Nimer said he supports small government and would work to reduce taxes and find better ways to provide the much-needed services that the county provides. Nimer faces two intraparty challengers for the party nomination, Joe Demma, a former aide to Gov. Gary Herbert’s election campaign, and Steve Harmsen, a businessman who was a county councilman from 2001 to 2005.
After the nomination is secured, Nimer would then face Democratic Councilman Jim Bradley, who has been on the council since 2001 and was previously a county commissioner since 1991.
Bradley has supported the Unified Police Department fee and is slowly losing touch with voters, Nimer said. In place of a councilman who implements plans without listening to constituents’ concerns, Nimer said he would try to best reflect the issues and values of Salt Lake County residents.
Salt Lake County already has ordinances in place to protect against bias in workplace and housing based on gender identity as well as adult designee benefits gay couples can use.
While in the early stages of the campaign, Nimer is still looking for volunteers and donors and information can be found on his website, melnimer.com.