SLC Council District 6 race: Get to know James Alfandre, Dan Dugan and Taymour Semnani

Three candidates are vying to represent Salt Lake City’s east-side district.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Voters in Salt Lake City’s District 6 have three candidates to rank in a race that will determine who will represent a swath of the city’s east side.

A fourth candidate, Jack Bellows will appear on District 6 voter’s ballots but has been disqualified from the race.

We chatted with the candidates who are seeking to represent Bonneville Hills, Wasatch Hollow, Yalecrest, Sunnyside East and the East Bench. Here’s what they had to say:

James Alfandre

James Alfandre

James Alfandre is a developer who has played a pivotal role in the revitalization of Salt Lake City’s Granary District. He’s a co-founder of Urban Alfandre.

Why he’s running

Alfandre said he didn’t know it was an election year for District 6 until a group of residents approached him over the summer and asked him to run. At first, he dismissed the proposal, but ultimately couldn’t shake the idea because he is passionate about neighborhoods.

“Instead of helping other neighborhoods in Salt Lake,” he said, “why not help my neighborhood, where I’m raising my kids and my family, be the best it can be?”

What’s his top priority?

Alfandre said he’s focused on turning District 6 into a “more people-centered, people-first district” with safer streets, more restaurants to walk to and more diverse, attainable housing that is well-designed and won’t lead to the destruction of single-family neighborhoods.

What makes him stand out as a candidate?

Alfandre said it’s his experience that sets him apart from other candidates in the District 6 race.

“I have a track record of creative problem-solving,” he said, “working with a wide range of stakeholders to find solutions that are impactful and that are innovative.”

He said he knows his way around a budget thanks to his business experience and has a track record of increasing — not diminishing — the character of neighborhoods.

Dan Dugan

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Council member Dan Dugan at City Hall in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.

Dan Dugan is the incumbent council member for District 6 and a former Naval aviator and engineer. He was elected to the east-side council seat in 2019 when he defeated then-incumbent Charlie Luke.

Why he’s running

Dugan said he is seeking to retain his seat because he has more to offer his district and the city with another four-year term. He said he’s made inroads that take time to develop and he wants another term to make progress on issues he cares about that faced setbacks after the onset of the pandemic.

“I’ve just begun a lot of these things and I want to continue to push forward and get things over the goal line,” he said. “And if I can’t get them over the goal like, at least get them to the point where, hey, this is a good transition and they have some good progress to move forward.”

What’s his proudest accomplishment on the council?

Dugan said he’s proud of how the city worked through the crises of 2020, but one of the greatest accomplishments was developing a more productive working relationship with the state to tackle issues such as housing and homelessness.

“We came through the pandemic strong,” he said. “Our economy’s strong, our city’s stronger, and we have a better collaborative effort with the state — far greater than we had before.”

What is his top priority if he is reelected?

If he is elected to a second term, Dugan said his top priority would be addressing housing and homelessness. The city, he said, is already making progress as it eyes how to build more affordable housing at all levels.

Dugan said District 6 has the same responsibility every other district has in contributing to affordable housing opportunities, and that means looking at the areas that can accommodate additional housing.

“We don’t have a lot of, I would say, open lots,” Dugan said, “but how do we effect change, maybe, say, along some of the bigger corridors we have?”

What sets him apart from other candidates?

Dugan said he is responsive to the community, can find compromise, and has no outside conflicts of interest.

“One of my challengers is a developer and one has close ties to development in his family,” Dugan said, “and those can be a conflict of interest.”

Taymour Semnani

Taymour Semnani

Taymour Semnani is a lawyer who lives in Wasatch Hollow with his wife and children.

Why he’s running

Semnani said he was initially inspired to jump in the race because he didn’t feel Dugan was sufficiently responsive. He said he reached out to Dugan with a concern and did not feel the incumbent council member was responsive.

“It’s the lowest level of elected government that we can go to,” he said. “So if our council person isn’t being responsive, then there is no other person we can go to. That’s as low as it gets.”

What’s his top priority?

Semnani said housing, homelessness, policing, public school enrollment are so intertwined, they can’t be separated, but if he is going to be pressed on naming his top priority, homelessness would claim that spot.

“Our humanity has been lost in the realm of homelessness,” he said, “and I think we have to approach homelessness as a 10-, 20-, 30-year outlook as opposed to a year-by-year reactive outlook.”

Semnani has called for bolstering pretrial diversion programs, prosecution of drug use, and implementing a zero-tolerance policy for property crimes.

“We certainly need to provide housing as a triage, and that should be unconditional,” he said. “You need to get people warm, you need to get people fed, but once you get them warm and fed, you still have to provide treatment because an addict in an apartment is still an addict.”

What sets him apart from other candidates in the race?

Semnani said with him, voters know exactly what they are getting because he lays out his policy positions in a high level of detail.

He also provides voters greater access and accountability, he said.

“You can call my cell phone, you can send me an email, and I will respond,” he said. “I challenge any voter to test that. Try me. Find out.”