Michael Valentine: Fowler should resign from Salt Lake City Council after DUI

Some officials seem to think they can rule us from above instead of serve us.

Salt Lake City Council member Amy Fowler was recently arrested for a DUI after engaging in a hit-and-run.

In her first public statement after the incident — refusing to resign from the City Council — she downplayed the incident as “a wake-up call” for her.

It’s frankly infuriating that the community always gets the short end of the stick. Elected officials who care more about their own image, careers and prosperity than that of the public they serve. Where is Mayor Erin Mendenhall condemning these actions? Where is the rest of the City Council demanding accountability and justice for the community? Are their interpersonal friendships and loyalty to each other more important than the oath of office they each swore to serve, to the people of this city? Where is their loyalty to the public, to their districts?

Amy Fowler should have resigned first thing after getting arrested, after posting bail, before doing anything else and it’s insulting to all of Salt Lake City that she has still yet to do so. That is the responsibility and requirement of serving in office, of being held to a higher ethical standard and code of conduct.

It’s the job of the City Council to literally write the laws of Salt Lake City. How can a council memberbe trusted to do that when they flagrantly violate those laws, to the point of putting their life and the lives of others in danger, to the point of attempting to lie their way out of it when caught and confronted in an attempt to avoid accountability?

This wasn’t just a DUI, which is already serious enough. This was an elected official of one of our city’s highest offices driving intoxicated, hitting another car, fleeing the scene, lying to officers about drinking, refusing a breathalyzer, and then blowing a 0.111 blood alcohol level two hours after the incident all before 11 a.m. on a weekday. This is a city now trying very hard to ignore these facts and a council member saying “sorry” without any real repercussions. A council member still trying to avoid responsibility or real consequences for their actions.

We’ve seemed to lost something important in our democracy these days. A lack of honor, class and respect for the duty, a respect for public service. Instead, we have elected officials that want all of the praise when things go well and none of the responsibility when they don’t. Officials who seem to think they are different than the rest of us, that they can rule us from above instead of serve us from below. That laws and rules should apply to them as well. Taking responsibility is not taking a “30-day break,” it’s stepping down entirely. That’s great Fowler is taking the matter very seriously on a personal level, but she must take the matter even more seriously on a public level. That is what the oath of office demands of her, the oath she swore to serve.

Fowler is right about one thing. Salt Lake City and Utahns are empathetic, we are compassionate, and kind, but we also aren’t stupid and we demand our elected officials, all of them, be held to the highest standard of the offices they serve. We sympathize with Fowler’s mental health and struggles with addiction, and we wish her well in her private life going forward, but personal accountability always comes first. Trust was broken, our council was disgraced by her actions. Healing and real change, for both her and Salt Lake City, is only possible with her immediate resignation, not with her further ignoring the voices of the community and her continuing to avoid accountability, but by embracing the full consequences of her choices. It’s what District 7 deserves out of this, it’s what is needed to move us all forward.

Sign this petition to demand Amy Fowler resigns immediately from Salt Lake City Council.

Michael Valentine

Michael Valentine is a filmmaker, U. of U. student, community organizer, business owner, and candidate for mayor of Salt Lake City.