He's a big man and it was a big day. But after taking the oath of office to serve four years on the Salt Lake City Council, Eric Jergensen spoke about the little things that lift a city above the average.
His voice catching on tears, Jergensen urged Salt Lakers to look for needs in their own neighborhoods, and address them one at a time. Whether you join a group to "clean up a neighborhood park . . . or you tutor a child or help a neighbor in need," Jergensen said, sweating the small stuff will "build a city where everyone feels welcome, everyone feels important . . . and everyone can achieve their hopes and dreams."
At Monday's City Council induction ceremonies, Jergensen joined his six colleagues in looking ahead, and in expressing both hope and trepidation about the city's future. While Jergensen, who represents the District 3 Avenues-Capitol Hill area, saluted Salt Lake City's pioneer heritage, District 5's Jill Love spoke of the need to "embrace new ideas" and "tap all of our creativity" to revitalize downtown.
Dale Lambert, who replaces two-term Councilman Keith Christensen in District 7 (Sugar House and environs), gave one of the shorter speeches. But after the nearly two-hour induction, he elaborated some about some of the city's pressing issues: completing the plan for Library Square and using the 2002 Olympics to bolster business development.
"Everybody is holding their collective breath" until the Games begin, Lambert said. "I have no idea what to expect. But they're there, so my attitude has been, let's make the best of them. I'm going to try to meet lots of people and enjoy them, and make it a time to remember."
But this day, for once, was not dominated by the Olympics. "We face great challenges in this community," said Carlton Christensen, who was re-elected to his second term representing District 1 (the Rose Park area). He talked about volunteering each week at his daughter's elementary school, where she, as a Caucasian, is a minority in her class.
Christensen also mentioned something that several others had in their speeches, something that was a kind of a running theme. Turning to Mayor Rocky Anderson, he said, "Mayor, we've had our differences. But I hope they've always been cordial." Anderson nodded.
Departing member Keith Christensen ticked off turning points in his eight years in office, including the city's sale of Main Street Plaza and the August 1999 tornado.
Roger Thompson, also leaving office, nodded to Love, who defeated him in November, and said he was happy to see another woman on the council (in addition to Nancy Saxton, who is at the midpoint of her term), "even if it was at my expense."
Dave Buhler, who has two years still to go in his term, was unanimously chosen as the new council chairman. He was hopeful, at least slightly, that a change could come. "We still have some work to do," he said. "It's a new year. Maybe we'll do better."