The west side of Salt Lake City has historically been at the mercy of those with influence and power. Our sustainability requires us to adjust this paradigm so that we build equity with those in power instead of receiving it without our input — which means elections and those on the ballot are more important than ever before.
Jen Plumb has earned our support by virtue of her qualifications in the state Senate District 9 race. Her experience, expertise and community involvement make her a standout candidate. She is a candidate who does not need anyone to be poorly qualified in order for her to be well qualified. However, we are also supporting her because the alternative has already proven to be harmful to the communities where we live and serve.
In the 2022 Utah Legislative Session, HB443 — Utah Inland Port Amendments — was put forth. Monumental work went into this bill by so many people, reframing the inland port structure and relationship with Salt Lake City. We worked to mitigate impacts on west side communities. Interacting in good faith with legislators, lobbyists and community stakeholders who hold radically different worldviews was necessary. No single voice could dominate the conversation.
The process was fraught. Principled elected officials working alongside other principled elected officials to find outcomes to satisfy the variety of concerns. When the final gavel came down, the bill was full of compromise, sacrifice, tears, sweat and promise. That bill has led to contractual protections for the environment, infrastructure and community, as well as the return of tax increment to the city.
Democratic Sen. Luz Escamilla and Rep. Angela Romero — two of the fiercest defenders the west side has ever had — gave their blessing to this bill after working tirelessly on it. Every Democratic senator voted in favor of this imperfect, more perfect union of a bill. All, save one.
On the final day of the session, Sen.Derek Kitchen argued that a city board seat in the bill needed to be designated differently, despite his failure to confirm with the city this was a fight he should take on. City officials had worked tirelessly to arrange internal functionality to accommodate this bill. He could have inadvertently upended our city apple cart and the many potential protections being offered in this bill had he succeeded.
Ultimately, he voted no, publicly citing that his principles would never let him support it. We applaud Sen. Kitchen’s ability to stand in harmony with his own internally determined principles, irrespective of what is going on around him. However, we contend prioritizing his personal principles is a danger to our communities in his role as state senator.
Our communities rely on consensus-building, insightful legislators whose principles value the people of our communities over their own estimation of right and wrong. We rely on legislators to work collaboratively toward solutions that are best possible outcomes — not perfect outcomes that don’t exist in the realities we face every day.
Jen Plumb rallies constituencies and protects people. That is her guiding principle — protecting the people of our communities. It is why she is the right candidate, at the right time, running for the right position.
We do not put our faith in people lightly. However, Plumb has earned not only our support but our willingness to collaborate and move the needles that need to be moved to protect Utah and Utahns alike.
Victoria Petro-Eschler is the Salt Lake City Council Member for District 1 and Alejandro Puy is the Council Member for District 2, both representing the westside of Salt Lake City and the communities closest to the inland port.