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Why should you vote for Rocky Anderson? He responds

The mayor’s race, which is officially nonpartisan, is for a four-year term. Ballots were mailed Oct. 31, and voting is currently underway. The final Election Day is Nov. 21.

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Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson poses for a portrait.

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson poses for a portrait at home in Salt Lake City on April 25, 2023. Anderson is running for mayor again.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Editor’s note: The Deseret News has asked each candidate for mayor of Salt Lake City to provide three reasons why voters should select them. The mayor’s race, which is officially nonpartisan, is for a four-year term. Ballots were mailed Oct. 31, and voting is currently underway. The final Election Day is Nov. 21. This is the first election in which Salt Lake City will be using the ranked choice method of voting.

Here is the response from former Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson:


The current mayor and I have significantly different values, as reflected in our relative achievements. Throughout my law practice, my nonprofit work and my service for two terms as Salt Lake City mayor, I demonstrated, through real results, my commitment to helping improve the quality of life in our community. 

Last winter, the current mayor left hundreds of people to suffer in the freezing winter without any available shelter, resulting in numerous deaths and amputations from frostbite. 

When I was mayor, we never left anyone out in the freezing cold without available safe shelter — and I never will. Our city received national recognition for providing a 450-bed overflow shelter for homeless people during the 2002 Winter Olympics — unique among Olympic host cities. 

The current administration has engaged in cruel police raids of homeless people without providing a humane alternative place for them. Even in winter, city employees and a contractor confiscated and destroyed property belonging to homeless people, including tents and sleeping bags. Under the current mayor, our city has been at its lowest moral point in its treatment of people most in need. 

I have a long history of assisting homeless people. I’ve opened my home to people in need and helped others secure temporary and permanent housing, where many are now thriving. Volunteering last winter alongside others at the Methodist Church during the coldest winter nights, I witnessed the power of our community when it comes together to support people who are in need. 

Bold changes

We must always care for residents and businesses while finding compassionate solutions for homeless people. The current mayor has stubbornly refused for four years to provide a sanctioned camp, guaranteeing continued homeless encampments in our parks and elsewhere in our city, severely undermining the quality of life for many residents and businesses. I would quickly eliminate homeless encampments throughout our city by providing a sanctioned campus with showers, meals and case management to help each person transition out of homelessness. We must also provide more supportive permanent housing.

Unaffordability of housing in Salt Lake City has never been worse. The current administration has paid about $50 million to for-profit developers who are building mostly poorly designed, family-unfriendly apartments that are unaffordable for most people. 

The city should treat affordable housing as a public need, similar to libraries and the airport. Like cities do around the world, the city should build architecturally outstanding mixed-income housing where tenants would be protected from the ever-increasing rental market. The city could borrow necessary funds from municipal bond markets or from the federal government, at lower rates than normally available to developers. The buildings would forever belong to the city, with lower rental rates because landlord profits would no longer be part of the rent and because the city, not the market, would control rents. 

The current administration is permissive about crime, instructing police officers to just tell offenders to “move along.” As a result, conspicuous drug sales, drug use and associated crime occur in many parts of our city, with no accountability. I will end the impunity, allowing our police to do their job. Then we can divert offenders from jail when appropriate to constructively address problems like drug addiction or mental illness. 

“Get-It-Done” attitude and record

When I was mayor, our city was clean and we were proud to welcome the world to the Winter Olympic Games. We revived the University light rail line, created the YouthCity after-school and summer program, and made tremendous progress in providing housing that was truly affordable. We were the most improved city for pedestrian safety. Police responses were quick. We won the World Leadership Award for our internationally renowned environmental programs. We were repeatedly named one of the most livable cities in the nation. 

We achieved all that, and more, because of passionate, accessible leadership in the mayor’s office and a remarkable, motivated team. I work hard, pay attention to detail, and provide responsible management, making sure everyone involved, including myself, applies a standard of excellence — and gets the job done.