April 19, 2014

Sugar House Scene: Candidates Seek Election in Sugarhouse

Voters in SLC’s District 7 will have a clear choice in this year’s city council election. The candidates who emerged from the August primary are very different in background and experience. Their messages contrast sharply.

Lisa Ramsay Adams has lived in Sugar House for 16 years and serves on the city planning commission. If elected, she said her first responsibility will be to increase citizen engagement in city decision making. Her second responsibility will be to encourage creative ideas from all parts of Salt Lake. Adams says she is a pragmatist who will apply her experience as a mediator for building public/private partnerships.

Kevin Paulson is a mechanical engineer now working in sales and project management. “Problem solving is my life,” says Paulson. He has lived in the Salt Lake area for six years. Paulson wants to give people more local control over their property. He says central planning is not effective. Instead, land-use and zoning decisions should be made by those affected through neighborhood organizations and their elected representative council. He would discourage other council members from interfering in local issues not pertaining to their districts.

The city council also serves as the board of directors for Salt Lake’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA), making policy and approving contracts. Paulson believes RDA funding is detrimental to small businesses and the availability of affordable housing. When owners develop property with their own money, he believes those who can afford it will redevelop. Those who can’t afford to remodel or rebuild will rent their old buildings for low-cost housing and startup businesses. “This type of ‘organic development’ helps provide diversity in the marketplace,” Paulson says.

Adams disagrees, saying the city benefits from a balance of public/private ownership. She says RDA funds can help to jumpstart good projects. She supports the use of public funds for transportation projects, including ways to avoid delays and congestion in the Sugar House Business District. For example, she would like to see more public parking in Sugar House. She sees the greenway in the new streetcar corridor, the crosswalk (HAWK) lights on 1300 East, and the development of Imperial Park as a good use of public funds.

Paulson would prefer to see more parks under private control. He thinks that owners of private parks and open spaces should get tax breaks for investing in their local neighborhood, and the parks would benefit from the private owners’ care and regulation.
Both candidates believe that the city should prioritize its funding for fire and police services, and for maintaining the city’s infrastructure. They agree on the importance of neighborhood preservation and support for small business. Paulson objects to granting special favors, such as low-interest loans to large developers, because it looks like favoritism. Adams proposes some sort of tax breaks or other strategies to make the playing field more level for small businesses.

Former District 7 Councilman W.M. “Willie” Stoler once told the Deseret News that he had ”three priorities as an office holder – tax limitation, crime prevention and economic development.” Stoler, who helped establish the Redevelopment District that has helped fund growth in Sugar House, would have likely been pleased by the choice that District 7 voters have before them. §

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