In January 2019 the Executive Committee for the Salt Lake County Progressive Caucus came to my home for what I assumed to be a social call. To my surprise, their sole intent was to enroll me in running for mayor of Millcreek. I was shocked and flattered, to say the least. We had all just witnessed the turmoil caused by the current administration’s ‘blight study’ and we understood that while we citizens were able to pressure city leadership to withdraw their blight study, their vision for our city and their intentions were still intact. It was clear that our new city of Millcreek could easily find itself on a path away from sustainability, community, and prosperity if the short-sighted vision of “build them cheap and stack them deep” was our focus.
Although we all agreed that something had to change fast, I was hesitant to accept their request only because I am well aware of the debt and other issues facing our city. I also know that when I take on a project like this, I take it on with my full heart and soul.
I live in the valley and am aware that the experience on the bench is very different than that for those of us who live below 13th East. As we watch traffic build on 9th East it becomes more and more concerning as more single-family homes get torn down and replaced by multi-unit dwellings. Shortly after the visit from the caucus, I was contacted by neighbors to help rally against another request for a zoning change by a developer. I started the “Millcreek Community, Conservation & Development Group” on Facebook in an effort to organize our communities in standing for what is important and necessary for us. Density needs to be proportionate to the roads and infrastructure that support it. We are a new city created from a mature community. We do not have the luxury of developing at will without considering the consequences of overburdening our current infrastructure. We live in Millcreek because it offers a certain lifestyle and we will not allow our way of life to be jeopardized. This is why I am running for mayor.
Our city’s motto is “Connected by Nature”, yet I am concerned with the lack of green space available for residents who live in the valley. We have several beautiful parks on the bench but in the valley any space that could be ideal for a park, city planning simply allows higher density development without any effort or demonstrable commitment to our city’s ‘Master Plan’ for green space in areas west of the bench. And the city is overwhelmed with landowners and developers requesting zoning changes to increase the densities and expand setbacks to encroach upon our neighborhood and increase profits at the expense of our natural resources.
I’m concerned about the lack of vision regarding the new City Center development plan. Creating an identical shopping center right next to Brickyard and right in-between Sugarhouse and Holliday will not bring in any tax revenue from outside of Millcreek. Millcreek will be dependent on its own citizens for tax revenue and if there are any shortfalls, the only option is to raise our taxes — an option that has already been exercised once in less than 2 years of incorporation. If we want to bring in tax revenue from outside of Millcreek, we need to give people a reason to come to Millcreek. As an artist, I understand the valuable role the arts plays in any community.
A performing arts center, visual arts centers, local art galleries, museums, cultural centers, and concert venues bring people inside and outside of Millcreek to have experiences they cannot have anywhere else. Such facilities also build a community culture and a city brand that will set us apart from downtown Salt Lake City, Park City, Springville, etc. Coupled with our accessibility and our natural resources, Millcreek has an incredible opportunity to be the cultural and natural hub of the Salt Lake Valley and a city that thrives as a unique offering to visitors inside and outside of Utah.