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Editorial: Davis the better choice for City Council District 5

Published October 14, 2013 5:21 pm

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This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Residents in Salt Lake City District 5 face the happy predicament of choosing between two good candidates to represent them on the City Council.

Bill Davis and Erin Mendenhall are both thoughtful, competent people. Davis' considerable experience in neighborhood government, however, gives him an edge. He earns our endorsement.

Davis has represented his neighbors on four community councils. He founded the Downtown Community Council when he saw that the Rio Grande Council, of which he was a member, didn't fully understand the concerns of downtown residents. He has also served on the city's Historic Landmark Commission.

Davis owns three small businesses in the district, which also gives him valuable experience in setting and balancing budgets, the primary job of the City Council, and makes him a knowledgeable advocate for small-business owners in the city.

Mendenhall, executive director of the nonprofit Breathe Utah, is well-versed on the causes and effects of air pollution, a major issue in the capital city. She serves on her school district community council and organized a Neighborhood Watch.

She and Davis share concerns about the lack of an efficient and convenient bus system in the city, and both would approach the Utah Transit Authority to improve service but would also consider more city-funded options.

While Mendenhall supports "vibrant neighborhoods," Davis favors citywide economic development that would include more high-density housing and commercial development in transit-oriented locations. Davis is a champion of neighborhood preservation, and his four years as a member of the city's Historic Landmark Commission give him useful experience in developing ordinances to protect the character of unique neighborhoods.

Initially a supporter of the City Council's recent 13 percent property-tax increase, Davis said he became convinced that waiting a year was the better option. Mayor Ralph Becker then could have lobbied the Legislature to increase revenue from the fuel tax, lessening the need for a tax boost that big.

Davis rightly believes council members should do a better job of informing citizens early in the process before decisions are made — he cited the Sugar House Streetcar extension and historic preservation ordinances as examples. Given his community experience, he knows what he's talking about.