These people want to be the next mayor of Salt Lake City

Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-07 20:49:13-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Eight candidates have entered the race to be mayor of Utah's capital city.

Luz Escamilla, Erin Mendenhall, David Ibarra, David Garbett, Jim Dabakis, Stan Penfold, Richard Goldberger and Ranier Huck have declared their candidacy by the Friday deadline. They are all vying to replace Mayor Jackie Biskupski, who is not seeking re-election.

"I love this city!" Dabakis told FOX 13 after he filed.

The race will be the highest-profile in the 2019 election, and could potentially be the most expensive. Only one candidate, Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall, gathered signatures to qualify instead of paying the $360 filing fee.

"I'm really doing this!" she exclaimed as she filed.

One by one, the candidates filed with the Salt Lake City Recorder over the past week to formally enter the race.

"We’ve knocked on 59,000 doors, we’ve had 12,000 conversations," said David Ibarra, a businessman who was the last to file this week but has been campaigning since January.

Some of the candidates like Ibarra and David Garbett, a former Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance attorney, are political newbies.

"I bring a fresh perspective and I’m not limited by maybe the box that we’ve previously approached problems with," Garbett said in an interview with FOX 13.

Others, like Escamilla, Dabakis, Penfold and Mendenhall, point to their record of public service.

"Salt Lake City deserves a mayor that has experience to make city government work for the people, has the energy and know-how to get the work done," said Mendenhall.

Asked to name the top issues facing the city, each of the candidates pointed to air quality, affordable housing and homelessness. Mendenhall said basic infrastructure is also a top priority for her. Ibarra said the sales tax base was also a concern.

"I can bring a skillset that is, yes, business related," he told FOX 13.

Huck said in an email he also viewed "city development being determined by corporate interests rather than community interests."

Penfold said transportation is an issue he believes strongly in.

"Number one initiative for me is no-fare transit for every resident of Salt Lake City," he said. "I think we can get people on the bus."

Jason Perry, the director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, said the Salt Lake City mayor's race will be the one to watch.

"There is very little difference between these candidates in terms of their policy," he said. "It’s all about the name ID, since it’s not so much about the policies."

Perry said it could be an expensive race, too.

"It’s going to cost more than we’ve seen in a Salt Lake City mayor’s race, I think, even historically. It’s because we have so many candidates," he said. "How do you distinguish yourself? You have to be in front of the voters."

Huck said he could self-fund his own campaign and "use the internet" to reach voters.

"This means I can be loyal to the voting people rather than to special interests and big businesses. I’m a liberal libertarian. I stand for live and let live with as little government interference as possible," he said.

Goldberger filed late Friday and did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Escamilla, a sitting Utah State Senator representing the city's west side districts, acknowledged it could be a fight to earn votes.

"It is a crowded field and what we’re doing is asking people to look at the experience of the different candidates," she said.

Because there are so many candidates, voters will narrow it to two in a primary set for August 13.

"I expect a tough race. It’s street by street, it’s door by door," said Dabakis. "I haven’t worked this hard since I was in high school when I picked blueberries for 10 hours a day."