Candidates for Salt Lake City mayor held their latest debate on Wednesday at the Black Box auditorium inside the Eccles Theater — and afterward, granted extended interviews to 2News.
Erin Mendenhall and Luz Escamilla went on the record on what they won’t do — demand resignations of city department heads — something outgoing Mayor Jackie Biskupski did early in her tenure.
It was a controversial move, and as 2News reported then, costly in terms of separation payments.
Still, there could be staffing changes at City Hall, and past mayors have sometimes appointed new police chiefs.
Would that happen this time?
“No, no, I think our chief (Mike Brown) is doing really good work,” Mendenhall said.
Escamilla had a different answer.
“I haven’t made a decision,” she said. “I actually like what Chief Brown is doing with community policing.“
This week, Mayor Biskupski endorsed Escamilla.
“To see me as the best fit for this position means a lot,“ Escamilla said, but added, “I don’t necessarily agree with everything she’s (Biskupski’s) done.“
She noted the Inland Port and homelessness as points of divergence from the current mayor.
“It wasn’t an endorsement I was looking for, or counting on,“ said Mendenhall of Biskupski.
“Does it hurt you?” asked 2News.
“I don’t think it does,“ she replied.
Salt Lake City’s home prices and rents have soared, and both called for more “affordable housing,” but when asked what one thing would be different in a first term, the candidates seemed to split.
“As we see parking lots going away, high-rises going up, and thousands and thousands of new workers coming in, it’s public transit that our economy needs to be built out,” Mendenhall said. “By the end of my first term, you will see that public transit system expanded throughout Salt Lake City.“
“City permitting and licensing, not only for development, but for small businesses, for people experiencing City Hall services,“ said Escamilla. “That will change dramatically in my first year.“