Biskupski takes office as SLC mayor

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 19:50:12-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- With her fiancée by her side, Jackie Biskupski took the oath of office becoming the second woman and the first openly-gay mayor of Utah's capitol city.

"As your new mayor, I commit to building an inclusive and welcoming city worthy of the unique history and legacy of this place we call home," she said in remarks to a crowd of about 350 dignitaries and supporters who braved freezing temperatures to watch her inauguration outside the City & County Building on Monday.

Biskupski joined three members of the Salt Lake City Council in taking the oath of office. Charlie Luke was re-elected to office. Andrew Johnston and Derek Kitchen were new members of the council (Kitchen is known for being the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit Kitchen v. Herbert, which struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban).

"We're so excited to have Mayor Biskupski, and Council members Derek Kitchen and Stan Penfold," said Troy Williams, the executive director of the LGBT rights group Equality Utah. "It's great for the gay community, for people to see our community  stepping forward and serving the public."

In a brief news conference outside her new office, Biskupski took notice of her history making role.

"Obviously, this is an historic moment and not one we should take lightly," she said.

Biskupski greeted many of her political colleagues, Republican and Democrat throughout the afternoon. Among them, Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton.

"I’m excited about Jackie. It’s great to have strong women leaders in government," she told FOX 13. "I think she’ll do a great job."

Biskupski has pledged in her administration to be more diverse, more receptive of residents' concerns and outlined an aggressive agenda. A top priority, she said in her inauguration speech, was dealing with air pollution.

"As a community we have nothing more in common than the air we breathe and the air we are breathing here in Salt Lake City is simply unacceptable," she said to cheers from the crowd.

Biskupski also vowed to be aggressive in luring new businesses to the city, making economic development easier and even uniting the city's east and west sides.

"When it comes to opportunity, we will not allow a freeway to divide us," the mayor said.

Biskupski said she is still appointing people to her cabinet. She said interim Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown will remain in place for now. Former House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig confirmed to FOX 13 she was offered a position in the Biskupski administration.

As the newly-elected mayor of an increasingly liberal city in a conservative state, Biskupski will have to immediately deal with the Utah State Legislature. Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County are asking lawmakers for as much as $27 million in taxpayer dollars for homeless services.

House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, noted Biskupski served in the legislature and believed she could be effective.

"She can work easily across the aisle, she’s done it before. I think she’s going to have a good relationship with the legislature," he said.