The 2019 Salt Lake City mayoral primary featured a group of highly qualified candidates, almost any one of whom could have been a positive choice for the next mayor of Utah’s capital city. The two candidates who emerged — Luz Escamilla and Erin Mendenhall — have different capabilities, qualities and strengths. After careful consideration (including extensive interviews with both candidates), we believe that the candidate with the best background, experience, relationships, perspective, temperament and vision to not only tackle the significant issues that our next mayor must address, but also to represent our city to the rest of our state, to our country, and to the world, is Luz Escamilla.
As a high school student, Luz migrated with her family from Mexico to San Diego, and then Luz later moved to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah, where she obtained a bachelor of science in business marketing and a master’s in public administration.
Growing up, she was taught that education is an essential part of life (both of her parents were college professors and her younger brother obtained a Ph.D. from Stanford), and Luz is committed to integrating educational experiences and outcomes, from preschool through college/trade school, into her solutions for our city’s challenges.
During her almost 13 years at Zions Bank, she has focused on helping small businesses succeed. Consequently, Luz understands the business community, and knows the policies and actions needed to support small business, spur innovation and development, and keep Salt Lake City’s economy growing.
As a state senator, Luz has proven she can gain and keep the trust of her community. Her success in shepherding 50-plus bills through Utah’s male-dominated, Republican legislative and executive branches clearly demonstrates that she has the political adeptness not only to bring people from different points of view to the negotiating table, but also to reach agreement — requiring her to get tough when the situation calls for it.
As a woman of color and resident of our city’s west side, Luz possesses experiences and perspectives that are critically important for the next leader of our city. Those experiences and perspectives allow Luz to identify with and understand members of our community who are often voiceless, and to address and resolve many of the issues they face, which will enable those residents of our city to achieve their potential and live more fulfilling lives.
Luz is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has created consternation for some members of our community who fear that the church will wield too much influence in city affairs. But Luz has a long track record of promoting and supporting women’s rights, the LGBTQ+ community (her brother is gay) and other progressive policies and causes — even when those policies and causes do not align well with current church positions.
We are convinced that her role as mayor will not change that. In fact, we believe that her church membership will permit her to initiate an open dialogue with church leaders that will benefit the city and its residents.
Luz’s broad background and experience have prepared her to represent the interests of all residents of our city. She will focus on solving our air quality, housing, homelessness, transportation, economic development, police accountability, the inland port, sustainability and other high profile issues that we face as a community, together with the more mundane matters that must be addressed for our city to function properly, e.g., good roads and infrastructure (clean water, sewer, etc.).
At the same time, Luz will take actions to make our community more welcoming, diverse, inclusive, healthy, dynamic, affordable, sustainable, and economically robust — her vision for the city that we wholeheartedly embrace.
In summary, we believe that Luz Escamilla has the best combination of background, experience, and vision to take our city to the next level and to make it the city we want it to be, and know it can be. Please join us in supporting and voting for Luz Escamilla as Salt Lake City’s next mayor.
Jonathan M. Ruga and Scott F. Young are the co-founders and executive management of Sentry Financial. They have been members of the Salt Lake community forever.