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Business Owner, Clean Air Advocate Vie for District 5 Seat in Salt Lake City

ErinMendenhall-BillDavis.jpg & Bill Davis 4 District 5
Erin Mendenhall & Bill Davis

On November 5th Salt Lake City residents in districts 1, 5, and 7 will choose new people to represent them on the city council. In District 5, Jill Remington Love, the only woman on the council is vacating her seat, and two very different candidates are vying to fill it: small business man Bill Davis and clean air advocate Erin Mendenhall.

The Coffee Garden in the 9th and 9th neighborhood is in the heart of District 5. Darryl High says places like this that make his neighborhood truly great. He’s a member of the East Liberty Park community council.

“I love where I live,” High says. “It’s close to downtown Salt Lake City. I can walk to 9th and 9th for a fresh slice of bread at great harvest or over to Pago for dinner or Mazza.

But High says it’s sometimes a struggle to maintain the quality of the place he loves. Neighborhood preservation is an ongoing issue in the area. District 5 in Salt Lake City is made up of neighborhoods east and west of Liberty Park between I-15 and about 1600 east. It also includes areas between 900 and 2100 south.

“We see a lot of remodeling going on in the neighborhood,” High says. “People are choosing to take care of and fix their houses up. We’re also beginning to see a trend of some of the really old housing stock that’s in poor condition being knocked down and replaced. And that’s certainly a concern to us.”

High says he thinks neighborhood preservation and transit issues will dominate the District 5 race.

District 5 council candidate Bill Davis is a small business owner who has been involved in various community councils and served a four year term on the historic commission.

His focus is on moving economic development to 300 west, an older industrial, commercial area that he says could use some help from the city.

“It actually generates a tremendous amount of sales tax revenue for the city and I think it’s time for the city to reinvest some of that money that that area is bringing into the city, into that specific area,” Davis says.

Davis owns a specialty auto parts business and says he understands what small businesses bring to the community. 

“Going forward as a city, a lot of the amenities that we want and need, we’re going to have to pay for ourselves,” Davis says. “So if we have a thriving local economy people are much more likely to vote for bond issues and that sort of thing for the things that we need and want,”

Davis says he has the leadership to manage an increase in population and improve air quality in the city.

“It’s going to be an interesting balancing act with the growth that we’re probably going to experience and the economic development that we’re going to experience and at the same time preserve those neighborhoods,” Davis says.

Candidate Erin Mendenhall is executive director of Breathe Utah. In 2012 she worked with then Senator Ben McAdams to pass a resolution that amended the state’s driver’s education curriculum to teach new drivers about driving habits and pollution.

“I think the skills I’ve used in advancing the conversation around air quality to a more central space of dialogue and bringing more collaborative voices to come up with real solutions is a skill that goes beyond air quality,” Mendenhall says.

Mendenall also has a plan for managing growth in Salt Lake City. In the short term, she says the city should consider circuit buses that would bring many of her 5th district neighbors into downtown area. Right now she says public transit commutes from areas like Sugar House to downtown can take an hour.

“We could even control things like what kind of fuel it’s running on perhaps and we could better connect those kind of neighborhood communities with downtown for that regular commute that so many of us make that’s currently really quite inaccessible,” Mendenhall says.

She also feels strongly about bike lanes, which she says have been getting a bad rap because they’re often coupled with a reduction in lanes.

“When you talk to residents along those areas where we’ve done a lane reduction and made it more safe, they feel better in their homes. They feel better in their front yards. So, I do think it’s a threshold that we need to overcome. I ride my bike. I appreciate that I can do so more safely now than I could have ten years ago.”

Voters in Salt Lake City will have a chance to decide which plan for growth, transportation and economic development they like best on Election Day November 5th. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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