Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall kicked off her reelection campaign Saturday with a rally focused on unity and progress for the city.

"It's been the greatest honor of my life to serve as Salt Lake City's mayor these last three years. I hope I can earn your trust as I seek a second term and re-election this November," she told a crowd gathered at The Neighborhood Hive, 2065 E. 2100 South.

Rev. France Davis of the Calvary Baptist Church started off the rally and spoke of Mendenhall's efforts to promote racial equity and inclusion in the city. Davis was part of a commission that recommended ways to help the city deal with those issues, and he said the city has benefitted because of Mendenhall's dedication to improving the city.

Mendenhall spoke of how proud she is of the accomplishments she has had as mayor and added that she is excited to continue working if she gets reelected.

"It's an honor to start this campaign with the support of Salt Lake City's working families," Mendenhall said. "I'm extremely honored to be endorsed already by Salt Lake City's first responders."

Mendenhall said this was a big week for Salt Lake City with Pothole Palooza, the announcement of a potential MLB stadium, and the major flooding along 1700 South on Wednesday.

"I think it's natural for us to think a week like this might have been a bad week. It's not. I saw this week as a week of togetherness in this city," Mendenhall said. "The city, the county, our residents all coming together around projects and even around emergencies to move this city forward."

Rev. France Davis introduces Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall at her rally that kicked of her reelection campaign Saturday at the Neighborhood Hive in Salt Lake City.
Rev. France Davis introduces Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall at her rally that kicked of her reelection campaign Saturday at the Neighborhood Hive in Salt Lake City. | Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com

Mendenhall said when she was helping build a wall of sandbags on Wednesday night, she saw one volunteer who was drenched in cold water. The mayor said she suggested he go home to get dry, but the volunteer told her he did not want to go home because he wanted to be there to help.

"That's who we are. That's Salt Lake City. Hundreds upon hundreds of people came out that night," Mendenhall said. "People of all ages and backgrounds working together, because that's who we are as Salt Lakers."

Mendenhall said it was an exhausting night but so rewarding to see the community come together to help minimize the flood damage. She said she had never been so proud of Salt Lake City and that if she hadn't already decided to run for mayor again, that one night would've convinced her to.

Salt Lake City is on a great trajectory and there is a lot to look forward to in the future, she said.

"Our city isn't perfect, but it is great," she said. "Our growth and the relentless commitment of the people who have invested their hearts into this city are fueling truly amazing opportunities."

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall poses for a photo with firefighters who have endorsed her campaign for reelection Saturday at the Neighborhood Hive in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall poses for a photo with firefighters who have endorsed her campaign for reelection Saturday at the Neighborhood Hive in Salt Lake City. | Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com

Mendenhall said Salt Lake City currently has the lowest crime levels in seven years, there is significantly more affordable housing available. and there is now a diversity, equity and inclusion team in the mayor's office. During her term she said she increased permanent supportive housing for the unsheltered, started the city's switch to renewable energy sources, preserved the Great Salt Lake through clean water donations, planted more trees in the city to clean the air, developed a "Tech Lake City" initiative, and helped the city recover economically after the pandemic.

Looking back on her first term, Mendenhall said she is proudest of how those accomplishments were made: "We did it together! And that's how we are going to keep moving this city forward is together," she said.

The mayor pointed out some of the challenges Salt Lake City faces are decades in the making, such as homelessness, systemic inequality, the valley's air quality and increased division between people. There are no "magic wands" for the homelessness crisis and poverty, she said, or "single actions" that can undo decades of inequality and damage to the air.

"The answers to complex challenges are rarely easy," Mendenhall said. "But there is hard work. There are creative ideas. There is grace and tenacity. There's a commitment to partnership over partisanship."

Working with other cities and the state government brings better outcomes, she said, and Salt Lake City has been able to transform its relationship to work together and put residents' needs first to find solutions for affordable housing and public safety.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks at a rally that kicked off her reelection campaign at the Neighborhood Hive in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks at a rally that kicked off her reelection campaign at the Neighborhood Hive in Salt Lake City on Saturday. | Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com

Mendenhall said she wants to keep working toward a future where all unsheltered people have beds, where more people use clean energy, where supportive services help every person who needs it, where communities are more equitable and where economic opportunities are available to all — especially locally owned businesses.

"I want to keep working to unify this city — figuratively and literally — by exploring every option to overcome the rails and the highways that tear us apart," she said.

We must reject the cynicism that has crept into everyone's daily life and corrupted public discourse, Mendenhall said. Instead, she says people should focus on a positive future and work together to make that happen.

"The pandemic, the earthquakes, the inland hurricane, the nationwide spikes in crime and homelessness and now floods. These crises didn't make us resilient, they revealed our resilience. And they have shown just how important it is to have a proven leader at the helm who leads us forward to work with our partners instead of pushing them away," she said.

Instead of her original planned canvassing event, Mendenhall encouraged everyone in attendance to help fill sandbags at various locations around the valley to aid those at risk of flooding. Mendenhall went to Sugar House Park and filled sandbags with her family.

"I'm asking you to stand with me this campaign to stand firm with me against the waves of anger, impatience and arrogance that threaten the progress that we've made," she said. "It might be my name on the ballot, but this is our campaign. We're going to win this election and we're going to do it together."