October 10, 2021

Blake Perez, City Council D1 Candidate

Blake Perez, City Council D1 Candidate
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By The West View

What qualifies you to represent your district?

1. As the former chair of the Rose Park Community Council, I have a track record of delivering results that have helped to improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. As a former transportation planner for Salt Lake City, I know why a keen eye on our budget matters. 

Identify two key issues that you are concerned about. As a city council member, what specific actions will you take to address those issues?

Air quality- I've got three main strategies to improve our air quality. First, reducing our emissions by investing in more multimodal options like transit, biking, and walking. Second, we need to aggressively pursue carbon sequestration by using city-owned land and public right of ways to plant more trees and vegetation. Carbon sequestration is pivotal in pulling our carbon legacy out of our atmosphere and improving our climate. Third, we must continue to invest in reliable particulate data as air quality dynamics change. Western wildfires, summer ozone, and a shrinking Great Salt Lake are all adding different particulates to our air shed and we must make sure our communities have access to accurate information.

Growth- Our most recent census data showed the incredible growth of our state - and the youngest population in the country. While this is an incredible opportunity for expanding our tax base, we must keep our eye on how this growth impacts our local communities, natural resources, and quality of life. It is critical that any updated zoning or land-use policy is matched with transportation policy and investments that aim to reduce emissions, make our public right of ways safer, and build long term resiliency and sustainability. As we grow, our public safety needs to evolve and meet the values and principles of our communities. I’ll ensure our public safety departments are equipped to meet the evolving needs of today and the future.

What is your background, and what motivated you to run?

As a former non-profit professional and city planner, and the current deputy director of an interlocal government agency, my background has prepared me to make decisions that are both inclusive and decisive. My time as chair of Rose Park Community Council has been the most rewarding and is what motivated me to run. Working shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors on community-initiated and -led projects is what inspires me to be our district's representative.

Identify an example where you had to make a choice between doing what was right and what was popular/politically expedient.

600 North has long been a dangerous corridor for our residents. In fact, there have been several deaths from auto-pedestrian collisions. For many years, our neighbors asked the city for safety improvements with no action. It was time for our community to organize and act. We applied for funding through the city’s CIP process and were denied funding for the project. We could have easily folded up and accepted that decision. The time was ripe to act. I encouraged our community to organize, not accept the initial decision, and continue to pursue funding for the project. We created a robust, public awareness and action campaign called “Slow Down 6th North Campaign” to fund the project we were initially denied. We developed a website outlining our project, how to engage with city council members, and a petition for residents to sign in support of the project. We gathered over 600 signatures, dozens of emails sent to city council members, and we showed up to comment at a city council meeting. That project was funded and has been an example of how we can organize as a community to ensure city investments in our Westside communities. 

If you are elected, how will you engage with your constituents to know their needs/concerns? 

During my time as Rose Park Community Council chair, it was important to me to try and reach more neighbors who couldn’t make a monthly meeting on a Wednesday night. So, we led several different activities to engage with more neighbors. This includes neighborhood clean-ups, beautification projects, workshops, surveys, speed networking etc. I've got a track record of doing outside-the-box engagement to increase community participation. As a councilmember I’m committed to doing the same. I’ll certainly use traditional methods of engagement through emails, phone calls, texts, and traditional meetings. I’ll also continue to knock on doors throughout the year as I find that one-on-one connection method the most meaningful. Diverse constituent feedback and differing perspectives makes for a better decision-making process.