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Trent Staggs: My plan to help all Salt Lake County residents prosper

It’s time to elect a Salt Lake County mayor that has a plan and the experience necessary to ensure our future will be a time where all residents can prosper.

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Weston Kenney, Deseret News

Editor’s note: Read the closing argument of Jenny Wilson, Democratic candidate for Salt Lake County mayor, here.

It has long been said that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” One of the most fundamental responsibilities of a leader therefore is to clearly articulate a plan which others can support. This requires a leader who listens to their constituency, discussing their needs and identifying ways to address them.

Salt Lake County has no such leadership or plan. Our budget has increased over 50% in the last five years alone, and residents have been hit with an enormous tax increase this year. Our budget is now larger than Clark County, home to Las Vegas, despite having half its population.

Sadly, many government officials resort to a maintenance of the status quo, rather than the more difficult, market-driven approach of lowering cost while increasing service levels for residents.

The ability to critically examine and drive innovation in government services often requires experience outside of government. Drawing on this business experience, my first act as mayor of my city was to lead our elected officials in the creation of our first-ever strategic plan. Our annual budgets have reflected these priorities, identifying new and creative ways to attain them, resulting in saving our residents millions of dollars in taxes while also improving service levels.

Salt Lake County needs the same exercise. With a county of wall-to-wall, capable municipalities, we should examine whether services are duplicated by another layer of government and whether they can be provided less expensively by cities, public private partnerships or private enterprise. We should constantly be seeking innovative, cost-cutting and efficient measures that provide better service to residents. 

Here is my plan, with four main priorities that I would finalize within my first 100 days of office, and be the framework on which I would operate for the next four years as your new Salt Lake County mayor:

Connectivity: Fully converting Bangerter Highway and Mountain View Corridor into expressways, identifying ways to improve east-west traffic, completing the Bonneville Shoreline and Canal trails, as well as improving the accessibility of our canyons will be a top priority. Fast and dependable broadband connectivity should be available to all residents. And a low fare bus pass, making public transit affordable and accessible to all residents of the county.

Safe and healthy neighborhoods: Immediately implementing myair quality plan and ensuring county health services are evenly distributed and accessible across the entirety of the county, with a focus on mental health, fighting the opioid epidemic, along with finally having a coordinated effort with all service providers that is metrics-based and individualized for our homeless population are initiatives where I have laid out details. Criminal justice reform along with incentivizing and retaining the best people to be in law enforcement is also a top priority.

Fiscally responsible, transparent, and accountable government: The county mayor should lead by example here and I plan to make serious reductions in the expenditures of the county mayor’s office. I will also have one person dedicated solely to seeking out innovations and best practices on making services less expensive while improving service levels for residents. And, I will finally conclude a much-needed audit of county assets, seeking opportunities for public private partnerships.

Promote a thriving business and housing climate: Pursuing an extensive buy local, stay local campaign, instituting sweeping regulatory reform, properly utilizing CARES Act funding and also launching an initiative with local chambers that will improve entrepreneurship and workforce development will all be critical to getting our economy roaring again. Also, by unlocking the value of county owned land assets, I have a plan that can address the housing gap, working in partnership with the development community. And by offering up a plan for smart growth that includes necessary infrastructure, residents can have confidence that we can grow responsibly, without diminishing our quality of life.

It’s time to elect new leadership in Salt Lake County that has a plan and the experience necessary to ensure our future will be a time where all residents can prosper.

Trent Staggs is the mayor of Riverton and a candidate for Salt Lake County mayor.