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West-side summit Friday night

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Utah Sen.-elect James Evans is inviting some 50,000 west Salt Lakers to air their concerns at a summit Friday evening.

"I'm going to be looking for funding from the state for neighborhood ambassadors," said Evans, the Republican elected in November to represent heavily Democratic Senate District 1. First "I have to have a clear understanding of what the problems are" among west-side residents.

The summit will consist of multiple short talks and tables set up to provide quick information and record complaints on anything from Medicaid to stimulating development on the west side.

"I want to know your opinions of multiple families living in single-family homes. I want to know if you feel the west side receives fair treatment from Salt Lake City," Evans wrote in his invitation to constituents.

"My job is to ask, 'How can I assist the city to get problems solved?' We're trying to think outside the box," Evans said. Salt Lake City Councilmen Carlton Christensen and Van Turner have accepted the senator's invitation to the summit. They have had many similar town-hall meetings, as has Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, to hear from west-siders. Evans, obviously, thinks meetings aren't enough. He said he'll look for trends among complaints, and seek grant monies to address them. "That was my promise to the voters," Evans said.

The senator and the Salt Lake mayor haven't always seen eye to eye on west-side issues. In November, Evans threatened to push for withholding of state monies until Anderson pays more attention to his side of the city. "Rocky (Anderson) promised to make the west side a priority, and he has not lived up to that," Evans said at the time.

The mayor responded angrily, saying, "His threatening of the city, in my view, is unethical and unprofessional." Anderson and the Utah Legislature have often been at odds, with the mayor criticizing the lawmakers' stances on highway construction vs. commuter rail. "Senator Evans, without even seeing any time on the hill, seems to have adopted this attitude of legislating through vindictiveness and intimidation," Anderson said in November.

The mayor plans to attend Friday's summit, however, according to spokesman Joshua Ewing.

The west-side summit will run from 6:30-8 p.m. at the state Fairpark conference room, 155 N. 1000 West. For information call the Utah State Senate at 322-3452 or e-mail Evans at jevans@utahsenate.org.

E-mail: durbani@desnews.com