Several years ago a city official from the southwest area of Salt Lake County suggested that residents in his city and other regions of the valley should be able to vote in the Salt Lake City mayor’s race because many work in that city and are affected by its local government.
That was when outspoken liberal Rocky Anderson was Salt Lake’s mayor and the more conservative pockets of the county didn’t like having him around. So it was those citizens who should have the say in the capital city’s elections even more than the residents of Salt Lake City itself.
Then, an anybody-but-Rocky-Anderson movement began in Davis County based on the same argument. Those conservative folks from Bountiful, Woods Cross, Farmington, Kaysville and the rest of those towns have to drive into Salt Lake City, so they should have some kind of veto power.
I would like to reverse that sentiment and suggest that Salt Lake City residents should be able to vote in the legislative races in Utah County because those folks south of the Point of the Mountain are consistently pushing legislation that cost Salt Lakers money in litigation and tax diversions, and saying things that may damage the image of Salt Lake nationally and affect tourism.
I admit that I am saying this a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the Republican Legislature’s gerrymandering over the years has rendered Utah’s most populated city powerless in affecting state policy.
Salt Lakers are tired of getting sick in the winter months when their air quality is the worst in the nation, but any meaningful legislation to clear up the air gets squashed by the conservative rural Utah and their right-wing allies in Utah County. Salt Lake passed an ordinance years ago to regulate the carrying of firearms. That was overruled by a state law, led by rural Utah and Utah County legislators.
When the president of the University of Utah deemed firearms were not welcome on his campus, the rurals and Happy Valley folks threatened to go after his salary.
To punish Anderson and his liberal ways, the Legislature held up money Salt Lake City was due from sales tax revenues relating to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Salt Lake City folks, who overwhelmingly support protected wilderness lands, still have to pay taxes that are diverted to a fund helping counties in southern Utah sue the federal government over road designations on protected land.
The latest insult to Salt Lake City’s relatively diverse population was the Twitter rant this week by Rep. David Lifferth, R-Eagle Mountain, who called Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling a racist, not because he told his girlfriend he didn’t want her seen with black people at the Clippers games, but because he gave money to the NAACP.
Giving money to a more than 100-year-old organization dedicated to protecting civil rights for all people and founded because a certain segment was so blatantly denied those civil rights is racist in the mind of David Lifferth and, apparently, those folks in northern Utah County who voted for him.
Lifferth later recanted and apologized. But the problem is that those kinds of statements get national attention, so folks outside of Utah think Lifferth is speaking for Salt Lake City as well as the rest of Utah.
Just like the folks in Davis County, and West Jordan, and Riverton, and Herriman, and parts of Utah County wanting to affect Salt Lakers’ lives, we ought to get a say in who they elect. Because they affect us just as much as Salt Lake City officials affect them. Probably more.
Eagle Mountain is particularly notable for its elected officials seemingly living in a different orbit, but having a pull on policies affecting Salt Lakers.
Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, tried to pass a bill that would share the holiday honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was killed with a gun, with one celebrating pioneering gun manufacturer John Browning. Madsen also led the fight to block the confirmation of the first minority nominated to the judiciary by Gov. Gary Herbert and once dropped his legally concealed gun on the Senate floor when it fell out of his pocket. He keeps a statue on his Senate desk of the Book of Mormon hero Ammon, presumably to protect him from Democrats.
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