Salt Lake City's District 1 is full of problems — like a bad image, especially concerning crime, and neighborhood conflicts arising between longtime residents and largely Hispanic immigrants who are new to the area.
But the district also has a great upside — its crime statistics show it's safer than people think, and it has more developable land than any district in the city.
It's also a district whose representation is up for grabs. The City Council member is running again, and four challengers are looking to unseat him.
Tuesday the five candidates sat down for a debate, sponsored by KCPW Radio, at the Salt Lake City Library downtown. That debate can be heard in full at www.kcpw.org.
Four of the five candidates — Leslie Benns, incumbent Carlton Christensen, Terry Jessop and Arnold Jones — have also responded to a Deseret Morning News candidate questionnaire. The fifth candidate, F. Joseph Irish, who has run for several city offices with little success, did not complete the questionnaire.
The candidates' complete answers to those questionnaires will be posted on the Deseret Morning News Web site on Thursday.
In the questionnaire, candidates were asked if they would support raising taxes to fund the 90 new police officers that Mayor Rocky Anderson said the city needs by 2010. Jones said he definitely would back a tax increase if needed. Christensen said it's probably unrealistic to add 90 by 2010 but said he would work toward the goal of adding more. Christensen would consider a tax increase only if prioritized spending couldn't pay for more officers. Benns said she favors adding 10 officers per year to get the city closer to the needed level. She noted the city added 10 new officers this year without raising taxes.
Jessop said he prefers adding new technology to the police department's investigating ability rather than just simply pouring in new officers.
On the issue of revitalizing downtown, Jessop said the city needs to focus more attention on helping small businesses rather than larger retailers.
Benns said she would like to pursue development of the proposed culture block downtown, while Christensen said downtown's outlook is improving and is better than many downtowns around the nation.
Jones said he would pursue rental/lease rebates or tax breaks for businesses willing to move back downtown.
The candidates agreed that neighborhood conflicts between immigrant Hispanics and longtime residents are a problem in District 1. Many longtime residents say immigrants don't keep up their yards and have too many people living in small homes.
Jones said the problem could be solved by having more city-sponsored block parties and other events to bring neighbors together. Christensen said the city can do a better job of working with state agencies and the school district to develop plans that will help new immigrants make a positive transition into American society. Benns said she would work with local churches to help educate new immigrants about things like housing codes and other issues.
Jessop said he has a background in nine languages and is uniquely qualified to work with the district's diverse community. He wants to explore the idea of an ombudsman that would work with the district's minority communities.
The development of the city's northwest quadrant, west of the airport, is also a hot topic in District 1. Some say as many as 75,000 residents could live there one day.
Jessop and Christensen both favor development of the northwest quadrant as a master-planned community that would pay for itself through development fees and would help the city attract new families.
Benns and Jones were less enthusiastic about developing the area right away. Jones said there are more pressing concerns for the district like adding a satellite police station and strengthening community atmosphere. Benns agreed there are more pressing issues like redeveloping the North Temple corridor using greater housing densities. She is pushing for a new Neighborhood Housing Services development plan along North Temple.