Occupation: Director of Implementation, CUI Benefits.
As the Salt Lake Valley continues its booming growth, what are your solutions for affordable housing, preserving community character and creating a high quality of life for city residents?
Growth is coming and we need to control it or it will control us. We should follow the master plan that we recently revised in 2017 and only put higher density in the areas that we already designated for such, near public transit and freeway entrances. If we find that is not sufficient, we will need to do another official revision of the master plan and not approve higher-density projects haphazardly and in a vacuum. We need to consider how any additional population density would affect traffic, crime, schools, water supply, etc., and assure we have the resources to not only accommodate this additional population but also continue to adequately provide for our current residents. We can preserve our small-town feel and sense of place while we grow if we do it strategically and purposefully. We should preserve the historic buildings we can and include them in an overall plan for a beautiful, walkable, destination downtown. Too often, people pass by Murray on their way to spend money elsewhere. We are in the heart of the valley with significant freeway and public transit access. We should become a premier destination for residents and visitors, increasing our sales tax revenue.
Besides affordable housing, what are the two biggest challenges facing the city in the next four years, and what are some specific programs or policy changes you will introduce to solve them?
In addition to partnering with and following the recommendations of organizations like the Utah Housing Preservation Fund to address the affordable housing crisis, we need to address the concerns our residents and business owners have about the lack of citizen engagement from our leaders. Many Murray residents feel unheard and disenfranchised. We need better systems in place to make sure all have a recourse to be heard, understood and treated with respect. The mayor needs to have evening office hours and be available to hear resident concerns. The mayor needs to employ additional methods of direct communication including social media, texting/direct messaging, virtual/in person meetings, citizen advisory groups, regular town halls and door knocking (not just during the election) and any other tool at their disposal. Residents need to feel represented and trusted with the explanation of why decisions were made. Too often the cart is leading the horse. Citizens should lead the city, contributing to its vision and the mayor should proactively bring that vision to fruition. Murray has suffered from a severe lack of vision. We should be planning for what we want Murray to be in 50 years, not reactionary to issues as they come up.
What are your ideas for investing federal pandemic aid in the city, including funds left over from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act as well as funds from the American Rescue Plan Act?
We should apply these funds to infrastructure repairs/upgrades; to create more green space in any areas that we allow higher density; for NeighborWorks to use for residents who need home repairs or for home down payment assistance; to incentivize citizen and business localscaping and increase our clean energy production.
What is a fun or unique fact about you?
I do some acting on the side and have performed at the Desert Star, Hale Centre Theatre and CenterPoint Theatre.
Brett A. Hales
City Council candidates
Pamela J. Cotter