Taylorsville • A few months ago, attorney Brad Christopherson was busy with his law practice. Now he is even busier juggling meetings on municipal issues and answering questions from constituents as the newly appointed District 3 representative on the Taylorsville City Council.
Jerry Rechtenbach, his predecessor on the council, also is tackling a new job, as mayor of the west-side city.
Have a voice in city issues
Taylorsville is starting 10 community councils — two in each city council district that represent several adjacent neighborhoods — that will identify issues and provide residents a voice. Each one will have a chair, vice chair and secretary who will be elected beginning in December 2013. Until then, the positions will be filled through appointment by Mayor Jerry Rechtenbach. Applications, which can be found at http://bit.ly/Z29WVp, are due by April 5.
His duties — combined until recently with time spent at the Utah Legislature during its 2013 session — have led to 60-hour weeks.
"That goes with the job," Rechtenbach said of the long hours.
The changes in city leadership started with the resignation in January of Mayor Russ Wall, who took a job as Salt Lake County’s director of public works and regional development. The council selected Rechtenbach from among 14 applicants to fill the year remaining on the mayoral term. Christopherson, one of seven applicants, was picked a few weeks later to serve as a council member for the remainder of 2013.
Rechtenbach, 60, a 27-year resident of Taylorsville, is an independent insurance broker — who has turned his business over to a family member — and worked as a transportation engineer for 27 years. He and his wife, Teresa, have four adult children.
Christopherson, 35, a lifelong Taylorsville resident, owns his own law practice and teaches a law class in the paralegal studies program at LDS College. He and his wife, Wendy, have three children.
Both men have hit the ground running in their new positions.
Rechtenbach — who served as a council member for nine years, four of them as council chairman — says public safety is the No. 1 responsibility of government. He said that issue ties in with his other priorities of economic development and neighborhood revitalization.
New businesses provide jobs and sales tax revenue, Rechtenbach said, and among the lures are clean neighborhoods. Executives who are relocating their companies will drive the streets to get a feel for the community, he said.
"They think if we’re not committed to the neighborhood, we aren’t committed to businesses," he said.
He added that statistically, well-kept areas have lower crime rates. To help revitalize neighborhoods and assess their key issues, the city is creating 10 community councils.
Rechtenbach said his management style is to surround himself with smart people who know their jobs. His biggest challenge is money because the recession reduced revenues but not needs, he said. Being too austere — in maintenance, crime prevention, economic-development efforts and other areas — could put the city "so far behind, we’ll never catch up," he said.
Christopherson also ranks economic development and neighborhood revitalization as priorities.
He wants to find ways to bring business back to places that went dark in the past few years, which would provide more entertainment options and places to shop.
And he’s been looking for possible locations for Comcast Cares Day on April 27, when volunteers will tackle beautification projects to spruce up Taylorsville. When everyone has pride in the community, he said, crime decreases and property values rise.
Also important to Christopherson is providing police and fire services.
"You can’t sacrifice public safety for anything else," he said. "If you don’t have security, nothing else matters."
Christopherson said he’s passionate about reaching the constituents who lack faith in their government by communicating clearly and being transparent about the issues.
"I would like to change that perception that there’s some reason to distrust the government in Taylorsville," he said.
Rechtenbach and Christopherson plan to run for their offices in November’s general election. The mayor’s term ends at the end of this year, and the winner of that vote will serve for four years. The four-year District 3 council term runs until January 2016 and the winner will serve the remaining two years, beginning in January 2014. After that, the seat again will come up for election every four years.
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