SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall announces bid for second term — ‘I refuse to let anyone take our city backward’

In a two-minute video, she cites “real progress,” says she is “determined to make sure the city grows for all of us.”

Mayor Erin Mendenhall announced Wednesday that she will seek a second term, saying in a two-minute campaign video that her work isn’t finished and that Salt Lake City needs proven leadership to keep moving forward.

“We are making this progress together,” she said, “and I refuse to let anyone take our city backward.”

Mendenhall said “the incredible future we’re building together isn’t guaranteed, and it isn’t going to be easy,” explaining that she is “determined to make sure the city grows for all of us, to bury the walls that divide us, to lead with compassion, to promote equity and to defend equality.”

Elected mayor in 2019 after serving six years on the City Council, Mendenhall said in her campaign announcement that Utah’s capital is changing, and has emerged from crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and a powerful earthquake stronger than before.

“Salt Lakers are resilient, creative and innovative,” she said, “and we’ve worked hard to earn real results, to make real progress.”

Under her leadership, the mayor added, the city has made more investments in affordable housing than ever, lowered crime and improved its air quality with initiatives such as planting trees on the west side and negotiating a partnership to bring renewable energy to the capital.

The video touts the mayor’s role in creating “Free Fare February” throughout the Utah Transit Authority network, her work in pushing the development of the planned Glendale Regional Park and lowering the speed limit in most of the city to improve safety.

“We’re building incredible new parks,” she said. “We’re connecting our neighborhoods with new byways and bike trails. And we’re doing everything we can to conserve water and help save the Great Salt Lake.”

To secure a second term, Mendenhall must beat former Mayor Rocky Anderson, who late last year officially announced his bid for a third term more than a decade after leaving office.

Anderson has repeatedly attacked Mendenhall’s record on homelessness, saying as recently as last week that the mayor has demonstrated “uncivilized cruelty” by using city resources to clear encampments.

In her announcement video, the mayor said she has shifted how the city works with the state and other communities on homelessness.

“While we can’t solve the state’s homelessness crisis by ourselves,” she said, “we’re building record numbers of new supportive housing for our unsheltered residents.”

In a statement Wednesday morning, Anderson noted he supported Mendenhall’s first mayoral run but said she has fallen “far short” of expectations.

“Under her stewardship,” he said, “housing affordability is at a crisis level, taxes are higher, services are fewer and subpar, parks are in a state of disrepair, violent crime has increased, businesses are leaving the city, and roads are in their worst condition ever.”

Anderson also criticized Mendenhall for making her announcement in a video that he said failed to address the city’s problems, and for not giving reporters a chance to ask her questions.

“If Mayor Mendenhall has a good answer for why things have gotten so bad on her watch, despite increased taxes,” he said, “why haven’t residents, businesses, the news media, and the homeless community been provided those answers?”

The candidate filing period for the November ranked choice voting election will run Aug. 8-15. Michael Valentine, a vocal advocate for the preservation of the now-destroyed Utah Theater, has also said he will seek the office.

Mendenhall will kick off her campaign Saturday morning at an event in Sugar House.