City Council will get a new face from District 1
By Christopher Smart | The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Oct 21 2013 08:19PM
Two community-oriented candidates from Rose Park are vying for Salt Lake City’s west-side District 1 council seat, held for the past 16 years by Carlton Christensen, who is stepping aside to be Salt Lake County’s regional development director.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that Kevin Parke, who sat on Rose Park’s community council, doesn’t think government should be run like a business. By contrast, James Rogers, whose wife also has served on that council, would like to see business principles applied to running the city.
According to Parke, government cannot be about the bottom line. "Our police department, our fire department and our parks don’t make any money," he said. "The things that make our community great can’t be measured in a profit-and-loss statement."
Rogers takes another view: "The city is one giant business," he said. "I want to bring that idea to the City Council to cut costs and improve services."
The candidates’ opinions also differ over the $116 million Utah Performing Arts Center, planned for Main Street between 100 South and 200 South.
Rogers believes economic strains make this the wrong time to build the theater. "The Capitol Theatre would have served Salt Lake City," he said, referring to the existing theater around the corner on 200 South. "That’s why I would have waited."
By contrast, Parke said UPAC will bring good things to Salt Lake City and can be an economic boon.
"It’s a tough pill to swallow" for many Salt Lakers, he conceded. "But in the long term, it will be good for the city."
Both men would like to see the city’s west side get more attention and resources from City Hall. But they diverge on which priorities come first.
Rogers would like to oversee what he believes can be an economic boom in District 1.
"City [government] has focused on the heart of the city," he said, "and hasn’t stretched to the west."
Parke, on the other hand, would concentrate first on public safety. "I’d like to see more community policing and more gang intervention."
Both candidates see volunteers as a resource that could be nurtured more.
Again, Parke put the emphasis on public safety.
"We have a graffiti problem," he said. "We need a lot more citizen involvement. We can’t rely on the police for everything."
For his part, Rogers would like to enlist community groups for a host of activities, such as keeping the Jordan River Parkway clean.
"I’d like to get neighborhoods involved, similar to the Adopt-a-Highway program," he said. "Local businesses and schools could sponsor a section of the parkway."
Neither Rogers nor Parke would have voted for the City Council’s recent 13.8 percent property tax increase.
Rogers accused the council of "putting the cart before the horse" by raising taxes before it identified specific expenditures. He would have waited to see if state legislation would bring the city new revenue streams.
Parke said the council needed to address deferred maintenance on roads and other infrastructure because repairs become more expensive over time. "But with the economy shaky," he added, "it made sense to wait a year."