Wes Losser and Bob Gray are battling for the mayor's spot in South Salt Lake, and they each bring a fair amount of community involvement and history with them.

Losser, who is running for his second term as mayor and who earlier served three terms on the city council, has said that Gray is a one-issue candidate who doesn't understand the nuances of running a city government. Gray is city councilman serving his second term and a former police chief who resigned in 1997 after disagreements about the police department's budget with the city council, of which Losser was a member at the time.

Gray has been endorsed by the police union in South Salt Lake and wants to give officers pay raises and bring more of them into the city. He said his focus has been primarily on public safety, which was his career for decades, he said, but he also hopes to focus on encouraging business and residential redevelopment and improving communication among city agencies, residents and businesses.

One of Gray's major initiatives has been to bring back community policing, a system in which officers spend time with residents by patrolling on bicycles or on foot and attending neighborhood meetings to gain support.

"They earn that trust and build it over a period of time," Gray said. "That starts building that partnership, the partnership being that the community acts as the eyes and ears of the community, so the police department depends on that."

Losser has drawn attention away from Gray's support by emphasizing his accomplishments over the last four years.

"Running the city is more than one issue, it's a balancing act," Losser said. "It's all-encompassing."

Losser touted his improvements to infrastructure, including curb, gutter, water line and sewer repairs, and said those improvements will lure young families back to South Salt Lake. The city has become known for its aging population, he said. Census figures from 2000, however, show that South Salt Lake has a lower percentage of senior citizens than Utah as a whole.

Nonetheless, Losser and Gray both are keen to bring families back to South Salt Lake. Losser said the city has relaxed its code enforcement to allow people to build extensions to their homes for more space, and both candidates support construction of houses that have at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms, which is key for growing families.

"As South Salt Lake, we have to offer everything else that Herriman does or Sandy does and provide all those things that they do in order to attract younger families and get people to move in here," Losser said.

Gray, who is the city council chairman, said the city has vehemently opposed closing Granite High School because it knows that families won't move to a city without a good school system.

Gray campaigns for the job with a civil service history and his family connections. His son is married to the daughter of Randy Fitts, a former two-term South Salt Lake mayor and current Holladay city manager. Casey Fitts, who is running for an at-large city council seat, is Fitts' son.

"I see a lot of things that I feel that I could help with and move forward in the city," Gray said. "It's more of a public service than anything."

Voters will also choose city council members Tuesday. Rea Goddard and Wendy Losee are running for the District 2 seat, Steven Norr and John Weaver are running for the District 3 seat, and Fitts and Larry Young are running for the at-large seat.


E-mail: kswinyard@desnews.com