October 10, 2021

Nigel Swaby, City Council D2 Candidate

Nigel Swaby, City Council D2 Candidate
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By The West View

What qualifies you to represent your district?

In a word, experience. I grew up here. I went to school here.

I understand the people who live here. I've spent tons of time in city council work sessions learning how council members think and work and I've been a tireless advocate for Westside issues as a community council member and chair of a business chamber.

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

Residents tell me public safety and homelessness top the list of challenges to the city. To me, public safety includes crime, fire and auto/pedestrian safety. We have an officer shortage in Salt Lake City and a problem with both jail space and prosecutions. The first step is to rebuild our police force. Salt Lake City should lead when it comes to salaries and that should help with recruiting experienced officers from other departments. We should expand the Ambassador program to get more uniforms on the streets where we need them the most. We should hire private security to protect public property like parks and other real estate assets. The latter two steps will reduce calls to police, reduce fires and send a message to criminals that Salt Lake is no longer a good place to do business. Once this is in place, then we can address the criminal element in public camps better while we enforce existing laws and provide resources to the most shelter-resistant homeless people. 

We need to work on reducing systemic barriers to the homeless like identification requirements and requiring shelter stays to access other types of housing aid. I would also revisit zoning for single room occupancy throughout the city. SROs are a viable and effective means of providing housing for the most vulnerable, but they need to have onsite case management. Salt Lake also needs to investigate raising the city's minimum wage because of the high cost of living. State law doesn't currently limit municipalities from doing this. We can't lower the cost of housing significantly, nor can we lower the cost of living. Creating a higher minimum wage in SLC, supporting entrepreneurism and recruiting businesses with higher average wages are all steps to make housing more attainable to residents.

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

My family moved to Salt Lake from Jamaica when I was six. I grew up on the Westside. Six years ago, I moved back. I saw potential. I saw the eyes on the Westside and wanted to be part of it. I started showing up. I started learning. I followed through. I started with the Fairpark Community Council, becoming a board member and now serving as chair. I did that with the River District Chamber (now River District Business Alliance) serving as its chair for three years. All of that has led me here, seeking to represent the neighborhood I grew up in.

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

As Chair of the River District Chamber, reducing crime and creating business opportunities was one of our goals. I was tasked with raising the profile of the chamber and fulfilling the North Temple goal. When crime increased, I reached out to the media to get greater police presence from the city. Some members of the chamber board thought calling attention to the problem would be bad for business. I submit unwalkable sidewalks, rampant theft, and murders outside of businesses are bad for business. I didn't back down on telling that story as often as I could. The result was getting a temporary police station established and the Gateway Inn sold to a more reasonable owner who has a better vision for the property.

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

I like social media as a way to connect with residents. I would continue to make brief recaps of city council meetings. Attending community council meetings is another way to stay connected. My phone is public and I talk to a lot of people that way as well. As a marketer, I believe the best way to communicate is the platform the resident wants to use and feels most comfortable. I currently use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, Telephone, in person, Zoom and carrier pigeon.