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Politics & Government

Sharp Divisions Over Homeless Response, Economy At County Mayor’s Forum

Julia Ritchey/KUER
Incumbent Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams answers questions during a forum on Monday.

Salt Lake County Mayoral candidates challenged each other during a candidate forum today.

Republican challenger Dave Robinson says Mayor Ben McAdams has let down business owners and Salt Lake’s homeless population during his first term as mayor.

“We allow something to get to the crisis point, and then we have grandstanding,” says Robinson. “…But with his time at the state legislature, with his time in [former Mayor] Becker’s office, with his time now, we have seen it go from bad to worse and worse and worse.”

Robinson and McAdams each took turns answering questions from a moderator during a forum on Monday but did not debate each other directly. 

McAdams, a Democrat, says he wants to continue initiatives that keep individuals out of jail and steer them into treatment programs. 

“We have a public safety crisis in our downtown and we have a humanitarian crisis in our downtown, and it is not acceptable and we can do better than what we’re doing today,” he says. 

On the topic of economic development, McAdams defended his decision to oppose a tax incentive package to bring a Facebook data center to West Jordan. That deal fell through in August.

“So if it were 100 jobs, it would about $3 million per job that we’d be paying to lure those here,” he said. “I just looked at that and thought, ‘That incentive is out of whack,’ it’s not good for the taxpayer — really not the vision we want to see here.”

Robinson disagreed and says McAdams was not transparent about the negotiations. 

“I think there was a lot of dishonesty from Mayor McAdams office on that,” he said.  “When we lose a major asset like that to New Mexico, something is wrong.”

The candidates currently don’t have a formal debate scheduled, though Robinson has called for one. McAdams has so far raised almost five times as much money for his re-election bid.

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