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Jim Dabakis Joins Growing List Of Candidates Challenging SLC Mayor Biskupski

Photo of Jim Debakis.
Austen Diamond for KUER
Jim Debakis.

State Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, who is retiring from the Legislature at the end of this year, revealed his next political endeavor Tuesday morning: running Salt Lake City mayor.

“I’m in,” Dabakis said in a seven-minute Facebook Live video announcing his decision. “I will be running for mayor. I’m not running against anybody — I happen to know all the people who are in and I hope a bunch of other people will get in. This ought to be Democracy at its best.”

Dabakis briefly ran for mayor in 2015 but dropped out to endorse Jackie Biskupski, who won the seat and ousted former mayor Ralph Becker.

The progressive state senator didn’t mention Biskupski in his announcement, but said a mayor should invest in future generations, “talk to the Legislature constantly” and be a “great ambassador” for the city.

Dabakis joins Latino businessman David Ibarra and former City Councilman Stan Penfold in challenging Biskupski, who says she will seek re-election in 2019.

In a statement, Biskupski welcomed Dabakis to the mayoral race.

“I’m looking forward to the campaign and talking about our accomplishments over the past 3 years, including addressing air quality through a clean energy plan and more transit options, increasing affordable housing, and building a robust economic development department which has brought nearly 9,000 jobs to Salt Lake City,” Biskupski wrote.

The growing candidate pool could signal trouble for the first-term mayor, said University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank.

“It’s not a good sign that people are willing to come out this early and say, ‘I’m going to run for mayor of Salt Lake City,’” he said.

Burbank said Biskupski has a clear advantage as an incumbent who won with broad levels of support in 2015.

“However, I think what we’ve seen with this mayor is dissatisfaction in a number of fronts,” he said, adding that includes her dealings with state lawmakers over the creation of an inland port authority.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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