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Rolly: Salt Lake City honors its last Republican mayor, who served four decades ago

First Published      Last Updated Feb 17 2017 12:37 pm

It's fitting that a historic figure in Salt Lake City government be the one to recognize a forerunner who himself stands out in history.

On Thursday, Jackie Biskupski, the city's first openly gay mayor, honored Jake Garn, the city's last Republican mayor, with a proclamation making Feb. 16 Mayor Jake Garn Day in Utah's capital.

While the mayor's seat is officially nonpartisan, it always has been well known which political party the major candidates seeking the office subscribe to, and they garner their support based on those affiliations.

Salt Lake City, a politically blue island in a deep-red sea, has not had a GOP mayor since 1974. There have been seven mayors — six Democrats and one independent — since Garn resigned after his election to the U.S. Senate in 1974.




Biskupski held Thursday's ceremony in her office to honor Garn, who attended with several family members.

Garn served on the former Salt Lake City Commission from 1968 to 1972, when he became mayor. He oversaw Utah's largest city for three years until his election to the Senate.

Biskupski noted that Garn's mayoral legacy included the enactment of urban-renewal initiatives, a Main Street beautification project, additional runway space at Salt Lake City International Airport and the creation of the city's first 911 emergency telephone system.

Garn went on to serve 18 years in the Senate, becoming a premier authority on banking and finance and the U.S. space program. He flew on the space shuttle Discovery in 1985.

Renters' dilemma • With all the talk of the need for more affordable housing in Salt Lake City, a renter's plight can take unexpected turns.

Residents of the 180-unit West Station Apartments near North Temple and Redwood Road went without water for nearly a week after a major pipe broke and other complications set in as plumbers and maintenance workers worked on repairs.

The lengthy delay also was caused by the fact the plumbing contractors had to order a new water pipe from outside the state.

Residents say they first found themselves without water the morning of Feb. 9. They say they heard little from management at first, with some apartments receiving notes on their doors about the estimated times the water would return. Tenants later began receiving emails from management about updates.

The first estimated restart time was 5:30 p.m. that same day. That time passed. No water. The reported time then was to be noon Feb. 11. Again, nothing. Then 9:30 p.m. Feb. 12. Then late on Feb. 13. No dice.

Finally, on Feb. 14, water began flowing in the apartments. Happy Valentine's Day. Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp said when his agency was notified by frustrated residents, it worked with apartment managers, who supplied bottled water to the renters and provided port-a-potties. On Feb. 12 and 13, the management even put up tenants in a nearby hotel. One of them told me that his room at the inn had a broken heater.

Sometimes you just can't win.

Too close to home? • The day after Rep. Craig Hall's HB132, which would require that new school buses be fitted with seat belts, went down to defeat in the Utah House, a Granite School District bus carrying his second-grade daughter was involved in an accident.

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