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Annexation, transportation are key issues in south S.L.

Three of the seven members of the City Council are up for re-election Tuesday while a fourth, Councilman Wes Losser, is trying to unseat Mayor Randy Fitts.

District 2 Councilman Boyd Marshall, District 3 Councilwoman Cheryl Owen and At-Large Councilman David Brusch are also all facing challengers in their attempts to win new terms.The city of 12,000 residents is facing massive problems created by the I-15 and I-80 reconstruction. Traffic accidents in the city, many involving trucks and other vehicles diverted from the freeways, are up some 300 percent.

Crime, too, is an issue in this election, especially with former South Salt Lake Police Chief Robert Gray attempting to gain the at-large seat on the council.

The other two candidates for the City Council, Del Atkinson in District 2 and Renee Watts in District 3, are also concerned about crime and safety issues.

MAYOR

Randy Fitts

Address: 385 E. Burton Ave.

Age: 47

Occupation: South Salt Lake mayor, city manager and public works director. Owner of U.S. Novelty and Party Supplies in South Salt Lake.

Political and civic experience: Served on the City Council for 12 years before running unsuccessfully for mayor eight years ago. Won the office four years ago. Other service includes being a member of the Salt Lake County Board of Health and chairman of the Salt Lake County Council of Governments.

Why are you running again? "We have made a significant increase in a lot of programs" from community policing to basic infrastructure. "Financially we're the best we've ever been . . . overall we feel pretty good. There are no major problems in any area."

What are the issues? "I've got a record to stand on, everything from re-drilling wells to having some of the best people in our departments." Other concerns include increased traffic from freeway construction, which has resulted in "about a 68 percent overtime budget for the police department," residential development in the city's west side and annexation. "I support annexation . . . it gives us a chance to grow."

Wes C. Losser

Address: 320 E. Robert Ave.

Age: 44

Occupation: Tile project manager for past 20 years, employed at Callahan Tile.

Previous political and civic experience: Served on the City Council for 10 years, currently midway through third term.

Why are you running? "To bring education, experience, leadership and professionalism to the office. . . . I have a management certificate from the University of Utah" and studied building inspection at Salt Lake Community College. Those qualities "are lacking . . . our mayor is not listening to the council. We're in chaos . . . I've never seen the city in such chaos because of (the mayor's) lack of leadership and ability to manage."

What are the issues? "Annexation, that concerns me a great deal. I don't believe we're following Utah law, if it's just a land grab anybody can annex and then raise taxes for the services. . . . Obviously the I-15 thing is a major issue, but we seem to be handling it."

CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE SEAT

David Brusch

Address: 245 E. Leslie Ave.

Age: 44

Occupation: Property management for the LDS Church for past 41/2 years.

Political and civic experience: Served past four years on the City Council.

Why are you running again? "To offer people a choice. My personal concerns are the taxes we pay and what they go for, and that my family and I are feeling safe and secure in the community in which we live."

What are the issues? "Quite a few major financial issues are coming aboard. Two are going to be very large items. One is the possible annexation . . . and what the costs are that will be incurred. . . . Two is the Columbus School we just purchased . . . we could be looking at a $4 million renovation project which is about half of our annual budget. . . . Traffic is always a large concern with the number of accidents up 300 percent in our city." He also supports maintaining local police and fire departments instead of contracting with the county for services.

What does South Salt Lake need? "Strong organized experienced leadership. . . . (I can provide it) because of a strong management background. I worked for 20 years in the food-service industry and 17 years of those were in management."

Robert Gray

Address: 3059 S. 500 East

Age: 57

Occupation: Retired as chief of police in South Salt Lake on July 1, now working part-time for the Salt Lake City Police Department in the alarm enforcement unit.

Political and civic experience: Worked for South Salt Lake for 24 years, starting as a beat cop and becoming chief in 1994. "Chief of police is highly politically sensitive because you're involved with all of the government officials. I have a pretty good working knowledge of all of the city functions."

Why are you running? "I established a community policy philosophy and I felt that needed to be incorporated into the governmental end as well. . . . I felt we needed that involvement. I felt my experience as an employee of the city for 24 years would help me be more understanding of their needs."

What are the issues? "Communications between government and the citizens. (And) with the major crime and traffic problems that we're dealing with . . . I feel we need someone with experience on the council to deal with them."

DISTRICT 2

Del Atkinson

Address: 2914 S. 300 East

Age: 47

Occupation: Heavy equipment mechanic for the Utah Department of Transportation.

Political and civic experience: None. "The only thing even close to it was that I was a volunteer firefighter for South Salt Lake for eight years. I just wanted to throw my hat in the ring and see how I'd do."

Why are you running? "I'd like to see some things change in the city. Housing for one. I don't think there's an adequate stock of housing in South Salt Lake. . . . Hopefully, when I'm in there, I can see what I can do to change some of the laws to make our city more comfortable to live in."

What are the issues facing South Salt Lake? "The big one right now is transportation. . . . I'd like to see some message boards put in key positions in our city to let people know what traffic flow is," he said. "I'd like to start programs like (Salt Lake City's) midnight basketball league to keep kids off the street and give them something to do."

Boyd L. Marshall

Address: 238 E. Cordelia Ave.

Age: 42

Occupation: Senior technician at Terratek

Political and civic experience: Elected to the City Council four years ago in his first run for public office.

Why are your running again? "You either put up or shut up. . . . In the last 31/2 years, we've accomplished a lot," including demolishing the old Bennett Paint building, improving water and other city services and keeping the gang problem in check.

What are the issues? "Traffic is a big issue right now. South Salt Lake is pretty unique. We have the brunt of the I-15 traffic . . . it creates a tremendous problem for the neighborhoods. It's really taxing the police and fire departments because accidents have probably increased 300 percent."What are your goals if re-elected? "I would like to see the city continue looking at infrastructure" such as road repairs. "I want to see South Salt Lake as a decent place for my children to grow up."

DISTRICT 3

Cheryl Owen

Address: 335 E. Ivy Lane

Age: 51

Occupation: Manager in the finance department of US WEST

Political and civic experience: Elected to the council four years ago after being urged by neighbors to run. "They thought I had the skills and the education to represent this district well. . . . I have a graduate degree in organizational management" from the University of Phoenix.

Why are you running again? "I have truly enjoyed serving the people of this city. I believe I still have a lot of skills and just a lot to offer the city for another four years."

What are the issues? "One of the biggest issues we've got facing us is the freeway situation and the impact it's having on the city. I'd like to see us be able to manage alternate routes through the city. . . . I'd like to make sure the citizens are safe and protected."

What are your goals if re-elected? "I would like to see annexation take place," she said. "Our city is so small . . . so if we annex, we'd not quite double it."

Renee Watts

Address: 2960 S. 600 East

Age: 41

Occupation: Homemaker

Political and civic experience: Worked for South Salt Lake as the city's sole animal-control officer for four years and as a school crossing guard. Also taught safety classes for youths and seniors through the South Salt Lake Police Department as a volunteer for the past three years.

Why are you running? "I have great concerns for the youths and for senior citizens and everyone in between."

What does South South Lake need? "Better communication and more involvement between the community government and the citizens. . . . Involvement is important. It makes a safer environment for everyone. Safety and quality of life issues, I think, are the most important to me."

What are the issues? Annexation. "Because we are small, and if we stay small, we will be taken over. We will be asking Murray City or Salt Lake City to take us over. . . . (Also) we're in the heart of the problem of the freeway system . . . I'd support a skywalk . . . or even a railroad (type) crossing" to help pedestrians deal with the increased traffic.