David Ibarra: I’ve seen the candidates up close, and I support Mendenhall

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall announces an endorsement from former opponent David Ibarra as they gather on the West steps of the Salt Lake City and County Building on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

As a recent former candidate for Salt Lake City mayor, you can imagine I’ve spent hundreds of hours thinking, reflecting upon and discussing what our great capital city needs for the future. I have been to every single mayoral debate and have listened to both Luz Escamilla and Erin Mendenhall speak dozens of times — outlining their positions, adding more information, and going toe to toe with each other’s ideas. So, as I’ve made up my mind who I’m going to vote for as the next mayor of Salt Lake City, it comes from sitting on multiple stages, in community rooms, and attending gatherings with both of these candidates.

I believe my fellow Salt Lake City voters should look closely at both candidates’ positions on these critical issues:

The shelter-resistant homeless population. Are the candidates fully knowledgeable? Willing to work with others? Do they have a clear plan B, if any of the current plans need to be changed? Can they articulate the role and responsibilities for the city on this issue?

Environmental and specific clean-air positions. Leadership from Salt Lake City is required on this issue. Ask the candidate if she is willing to take actions and stances even if nobody else will? Are they offering concrete planning? How will they measure success on clean air initiatives?

Each mayoral candidate should be able to articulate her agenda on the inland port, beyond just the lawsuit. I will be looking for plans that include the Port Authority helping with the affordable housing crisis, as the tax increment that the authority will use for its incentives needs to include a consideration of affordable housing. The mayor should be articulating her expectations of the Port Authority by showing a commitment to help the west side community most impacted, including school kids and environmental mitigations.

My life’s work, in part, has been developing and identifying talent as an executive leadership coach and one who gives professional seminars on how to find success and improve your life. Among many key qualities of leadership is one I find particularly important at this moment in time for our city: our next mayor must have her own internal compass. While she should look to experts to help execute, she must be driven by her own personal vision of what the city should look like. She needs to be capable of making decisions based on her own thinking.

We the people can develop leadership by our expectations. I believe we have reached a point as residents of Salt Lake City that we can vote for the person — as Martin Luther King would say — by judging “the content of their character” through their display of knowledge, vision, and leadership experience. We can and should vote beyond identity politics and soundbites.

Erin Mendenhall, in my opinion, is the person we need to run this city. Her proving grounds have been the city, not the state legislature, which gives her a head start when it comes to planning and executing her plans. This experience has also given her a strong desire to create a positive working relationship with the council – something she lacked as a council member from our current mayor. She has the plans, work ethic, skills and knowledge to guide this city through some breakout moments we need in the next four years.

Please consider joining me in voting for Erin Mendenhall for Salt Lake City mayor.

David Ibarra

David Ibarra is a leadership consultant and entrepreneur, with a background in the hospitality and automotive industries. He is the founder of the Ibarra Foundation and serves as a board member for the Latino Leaders Network.