Voting can be confusing and requires some research on the part of the voter. Have you ever showed up at a vote center and asked yourself, “Who are these people on the ballot? I don’t know anything about these candidates!” West View volunteers put together this Voter’s Guide to help you educate yourself.
To preview your complete ballot before the Nov. 6 election, visit the Salt Lake County Clerk’s website at www.slco.org/clerk/elections, where you will be able to type in your address and view a full list of candidates. At the same website, you have the option to sign up for Vote by Mail to receive your ballot in the mail, giving you time to do some research on the candidates and issues. You can either mail in your ballot or drop it off on election day.
The West View has posed questions to candidates for Utah State Senate, Utah State House and state school boards in the districts within the zip codes we primarily serve, 84104 and 84116. This is partly because of our own limited resources, but also because races for countywide or statewide seats are covered by major media sources.
Please be sure to visit the County Clerk’s site because voting district boundaries are not based on zip codes.
Political Candidate Q & A
Questions for non-school board candidates:
1. The proposed inland port covers about one-third of the area of Salt Lake City. It would definitely border, and possibly include, an 800-acre site previously used as a landfill. What do you know about the potential harmful effects to human health related to this site? What legislation would you sponsor or support to address potential problems?
2. Legislation establishing management of the inland port has generated controversy related to Salt Lake City’s voice in the long-term operation of the project. Please state what changes you would like to see in that legislation.
3. How would you address problems related to homelessness on Salt Lake City’s west side?
4. What would the ideal mix of west-side housing options look like? How can we more equitably distribute affordable housing throughout the city?
State School Board candidate questions:
1. What ideas do you have about meeting the particular needs of west-side Title 1 schools (schools with a large low-income population)?
2. Are you in favor of keeping the State School Board elections non-partisan? Please explain your answer.
Utah State House of Representatives, District 23
Sandra Hollins (Dem)
1. During the 2018 session the legislative body passed SB 234, which allows the state to proceed in the creation of a Utah Inland Port Authority. This bill lacked provisions necessary to protect our environment. The bill was amended during a special legislative session in July, which removed wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas. Despite these changes, there are many issues that still need to be addressed, such as the potential impacts of commercial trucks and trains affecting our air quality within our neighborhoods. Considering the current outcome of this bill, I will support future legislation to include zero emission development practices utilizing clean energy sources and air monitoring systems.
About the landfill area: The site that was previously used as a landfill was donated to the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The State Department of Environmental Quality would administer any cleaning processes to this area and when considering the potential harmful effects, I will urge the support of an installation and operation towards ongoing monitoring systems with ground water, soil, and air for any possible effects on developing this area.
2. The location of the inland port will primarily be located in House District 23. When SB 234 was introduced in the 2018 General Session, my top priority was assuring that the residents of the west side of Salt Lake City had a voice, which I successfully advocated for. Reflecting on the existing bill, I would like to see the following changes:
1.Transparency, accountability, and operation of the governing board.
2.The development of an energy efficient port.
3. The challenges associated with those experiencing homelessness are complex and challenging. Homeless issues on the west side are not new and despite the efforts of Operation Rio Grande, our communities have seen an increase with the unsheltered. As I see the impacts on our west-side residents and businesses along North Temple, it is important we continue to communicate our experiences consistently so that we can strengthen our strategy to resolve these issues. I commend the city for listening to west-side residents and responding with an increase in police bike patrol with a temporary police substation.
This summer, I requested a meeting with the governor’s office to discuss the impact of how Operation Rio Grande impacted our community, which resulted in an increase of patrols by public safety. Currently, it is a short-term solution for a systemic problem, and there is a lot more to do. As a licensed clinical social worker, I believe we need to address substance abuse, providing early interventions with mental health, treatment, and family support to address this problem long-term. Many individuals who are unsheltered have a history of trauma, which may result in disconnection from resources and the community. Additional homeless outreach workers can provide that bridge to reconnect individuals. There also has to be a pathway into livable wage jobs for those who are formerly incarcerated or in recovery. Education and job training is a path out of poverty. Lastly, we need to continue to create affordable housing throughout city.
4. One of the largest issues this city faces is the limited supply of affordable housing. The ideal mix of west-side housing includes diversity for mixed incomes, introduction of middle market housing opportunities, and housing that is near public transportation. This encourages sustainable practices, which offers the possibility of less traffic and an improvement in air quality in our communities. I commend the city, county, and state efforts in allocating funds to develop an equitable and affordable housing plan that provides improved access to public transportation.
Arnold Jones (Rep)
There is the possibility of many health issues arising, such as contaminated water, high mineral levels – many more potential hazards as well. I would like to see regular ground sample tests done to ensure no potential contaminations could occur, limit the type of development opportunities for several years to ensure the potential health hazards could arise. Many other considerations need to be looked at as well.
I would like to have open board meetings, and a very high level of transparency about all current and future development plans of the board. There is a similar project that was developed in Clearfield that has not prospered. More details need to be discussed before moving forward with it.
I would recommend using the current prison site once vacated after the new prison is completed. Don't sell the property for investment. Instead tear it down and rebuild it with a complete community that offers housing, employment training, college, needed health services and more.
Ideal, what would be ideal? That is the question. As housing prices continue to increase, we need low-income housing that individuals on limited incomes can afford. There are many more facets that need to be looked at as well.
Utah State House of Representatives, District 26
Angela Romero (Dem)
The development of Salt Lake City’s Northwest Quadrant, including the ongoing construction of the new State Prison, and the Inland Port, will adversely affect the environment, primarily air quality, but also our sound, light, and water quality. It’s important to note, Salt Lake County is in non-compliance for federal air quality standards for both PM2.5 and ozone. This has led the Utah Division of Air Quality (UDAQ) to develop a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to address air quality standards.
Senator Luz Escamilla, Representative Hollins and I are working on legislation to require an “Environmental Impact Assessment and Monitoring for Inland Port and Northwest Quadrant Development.”
In my ideal world I’d repeal Senate Bill 234. I know that will not happen with our current legislative body. I want to see the following changes this upcoming session:
- Legislate, fund and require an environmental impact assessment and monitoring system for Inland Port and Northwest Quadrant development. Senator Escamilla has already filed a bill, which I support.
- Stop closed-door meetings. Require the Port Authority to be open, transparent and accountable to the community.
- Ensure best practices are implemented to protect and track ecosystem health.
- The development of an energy efficient port.
Addressing homelessness does not begin or end with Operation Rio Grande, which I view as a Band-Aid approach. We cannot look at people experiencing homelessness through a narrow lens. There are many reasons why people may experience homelessness. We need to ensure all Utahns have access to a quality education, adequate healthcare and mental health services (Medicaid expansion), affordable housing, walkable communities, and a robust mass transit system. Most importantly, we need to setup institutional systems and incentives to ensure ALL people have the ability to make a living wage.
To end, we cannot arrest our way out of homelessness. This is a short-term solution. The majority of people who experience homelessness or who are on the verge of homelessness are often invisible to us. For those that we do see, our long-term strategy should focus on early interventions to address trauma/mental health, treatment and community/family support.
One of the reasons I moved to the west side was because of affordability. A major concern of mine is gentrification. I want to ensure families and vulnerable populations are not priced out of the neighborhood. In the last five years, I’ve seen the value of my house increase significantly. The state has no control over equitable distribution of affordable housing throughout the city. As an elected official, I can share my thoughts regarding city housing options with Salt Lake City elected officials. One example of this is inclusionary zoning. This type of zoning provides affordable housing options, voluntary or mandated, for low to moderate-income households within new market-rate residential developments. I know affordable housing is a top priority for city officials and I applaud their efforts.
Note: The other candidates for State House of Representatives, District 26 did not provide responses: Jonathan Greene (Lib), Man Hung (Rep), and Jeremy Twitchell (Write-in).
State Senate District 2
Derek Kitchen (Dem)
The old landfill has a long history in our city with very serious environmental and health risks. The development of the Northwest Quadrant and construction of an inland port has brought the reality to the surface. While the ownership of the land has changed over the years, Salt Lake City Corp. owns the lion’s share of the liability. It needs to be cleaned up and we need partners at the county and state level to do so. I would support funding to help with cleanup and risk mitigation.
First and foremost, I believe the Inland Port Authority needs to have open and public meetings. They need to abide by the same transparency and accountability standards that exist with other public governing bodies.
From an environmental standpoint, I’d like to see the State of Utah and DEQ conduct a comprehensive air quality and environmental assessment of the area. We need a baseline understanding of the landscape and air-shed in order to truly understand the long-term impacts of development of the Inland Port. It will also help us make informed policy decisions in the future.
The Utah Inland Port will continue to see numerous pieces of legislation over the coming years. I will support anything that increases accountability, representation, and good planning practices.
Housing and wages. We desperately need access to more affordable housing units, but we also need to prevent homelessness with good wages and stable work environments. It’s also important for the state to expand medicaid which will immediately increase access to affordable healthcare. Many people need mental health support and treatment for substance use disorders. We need funding for wrap around services that provide stability and support for people.
I believe we need more housing of all types. From deeply affordable housing that keeps people in the community, to workforce housing and market rate development. I’d also like to see an increase in home ownership, and infill that takes advantage of the unique post-war neighborhood design. Large lots present an opportunity for missing-middle development, condos, and ADU’s.
Note: The other candidates for State Senate District 2 did not provide responses: Vance Hansen (Write-in) and Chase Winder (Rep)
Utah State School Board, District 3
1) At the State Board level, our responsibility is to make sure that Title 1 schools receive their funding. Right now, there is a movement among some board members to give up $120 million in Title I money in order to preserve parents' ability to “opt-out” of testing. This would be a disaster for west side Title 1 schools. I am working hard to make sure schools do not lose this money. I am the person on the board who consistently speaks up for low-income students and students with disabilities – and as long as I am on the board, I will fight with everything I have not to lose this funding.
2) Yes, I am in favor of keeping State School Board elections non-partisan. The Utah State Board of Education is made up of people with very diverse views and adding partisanship to the mix would add another layer of divisiveness for us to work through. Currently, when I work with legislators on education issues, I can work with those on both sides of the aisle. If school board elections became partisan, I am afraid it would polarize the board of education, and our work with the legislature as well. Having a board of education that is non-partisan allows us to be laser-focused on what is best for our students, instead of worrying about party platforms.
1) Utah State School Board District 3 contains both the second largest and second smallest school districts in the state with 68,000 and 250 students respectively. I believe all students should have equal access to high quality educational programs, instruction, and teachers. The state board of education works with local school boards who provide for the actual Title 1 program. As a state board member, I would want to make sure that funds are appropriately distributed to districts and that within districts, schools are funded equitably and adequately. I would want to monitor the use of funding and make sure that it is used appropriately. I would also advocate for no reduction in funding but the maintenance of funding or even an increase in funding from the federal government. Finally as a state school board member, I would work to have a positive working relationship with the local school boards and superintendents within my district and to be a resource for them at the state level for their local needs. I believe the best way to solve problems is at the local level and I want to make it possible for school districts to accomplish this.
2) Yes. Under the Utah Constitution the State School Board is to be a non-partisan position and I feel it should remain that way. Education should be a right for all students and students should not be subject to their education being a product of the whims of partisan politics. Students should be taught the ability to reason and make up their own minds about many subjects. Schools should be places for students to research, learn, and test their different ideas in a safe environment, not a place where the propaganda of partisan politics determines standards, curriculum, or instruction.
By keeping the Utah State School Board and local school boards non-partisan, a board member or candidate for the board will be judged by their own positions on education and not on a party platform. Also, having them oversee education at the state level in a non-partisan way, making sure that our schools produce the best education possible for all students will benefit our society by graduating students with skills to make their own decisions relative to partisan politics.
Utah State Board of Education, District 5
Laura Collier Belnap
As a veteran state school board member, I have been working to provide additional funding for teachers who work with our most at-risk students and especially in our Title I schools. I have also added a stipend for teachers who stay and teach in our Title I schools for more than three years. I continue to advocate for education to have increased state funding. Federal funds do not stretch far enough to support our Title I school children and staff. I will continue to work for funding that would provide opportunities for schools to remain open more hours, which could provide additional education for parents and tutoring opportunities for children.
The Utah State School Board should not be part of partisan elections. The state school board members should make decisions and votes determined by the needs of the children, parents and schools, not by political parties. The voice of the all the people should be considered concerning the education of our children.
Patrick D. Riley
While there are many things that the state board can do to support Title 1 schools, the most important is to work with state and federal lawmakers to ensure that funding for Title 1 schools continues. In addition, the funding should stay with the schools and not become portable following the child. School-wide programs dealing with the whole school population must be continued and enhanced.
I strongly support non-partisan elections for school board members at the state and local level. If there is any public concern that should be above partisan bickering, it is the education of our children.