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Action plan for Salt Lake City is presented by Becker

Ralph Becker figures to be very busy his first six months in office if elected mayor of Salt Lake City.

Becker unveiled his "180-Day Action Plan" during a press conference Monday morning at Library Square, outlining his five E's — education, environment, equality, engaging the community and excitement downtown — that he says "will serve as the foundation and starting point of the Becker administration."

"It is time for Salt Lake City to move forward aggressively and progressively with our city agenda," he said. "If elected, I will work with our City Council, with our neighboring communities and with our state Legislature to make sure we achieve our potential and become truly a great American city."

Becker was joined by Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, who announced his support for Becker, and Salt Lake City Council members Eric Jergensen and Soren Simonsen, both of whom have previously endorsed Becker for mayor.

Three other members of the City Council, Jill Remington Love, Carlton Christensen and Van Turner, have endorsed their council colleague Dave Buhler in the mayoral race.

The fact that both he and Becker are Democrats had little to do with the endorsement in the nonpartisan race, Corroon said.

"As I like to say, potholes don't care if it's Republicans or Democrats filling them," he said. "I think Ralph Becker will be an excellent city mayor and do an excellent job bridging the political divide."

Part of Becker's plan to enhance the quality of education in the city is to appoint an education partnership coordinator in the mayor's office whose full-time job will be building partnerships between the city, its schools and the community.

Becker, who has served for the past 11 years in the Utah House, said he's been disappointed with the Legislature's actions in the area of strengthening public education.

"When I looked at the combination of things we can do and should do in Salt Lake City, I became convinced we've got to have someone whose sole job at my side is to build those partnerships, to do everything we can to help public education succeed in our city," he said.

Becker also plans to schedule monthly meetings with school officials and parents. He also proposes the creation of a "Salt Lake City Is College-Bound" scholarship program.

His environmental agenda includes accelerating the planning and funding for city bikeways; completing the Jordan River Parkway; reviewing staff, land-use ordinances and planning policies in the city's departments of community development and building and housing services; and revising building codes to encourage the use of LEED standards in the private sector.

To address equality, Becker said his administration will present to the City Council during his first day in office a nondiscrimination ordinance that goes beyond the city's current one, calling for no discrimination in housing and realty, employment, public accommodation and city activities.

Also on his first day as mayor, Becker said he will submit a request to the City Council calling for the creation of a domestic partner registry, making sure all employee benefits are extended to domestic partners.

Plans for engaging the community, he said, include getting residents involved in solving the problems in their communities, as well as strengthening neighborhood safety by providing additional police officers at the neighborhood level.

Excitement in the city also is important, Becker said, particularly downtown.

"We are right on the cusp of transforming our downtown into that lively, vibrant center that it can be and once was," Becker said.

Becker's full 180-Day Action Plan can be viewed at www.ralphbecker.com/180days.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com