Fundamentally, the role of local government is to provide services and protections that residents are unable to provide for themselves. When it comes to making decisions, I believe leaders in government should worry more about asking the right questions than having the right answers. If we are to fully engage our residents in the collaborative work of building the very best city possible, we must extract the genius of those around us. And to do so, we must ask bigger questions.
My experience on the City Council has given me the opportunity to ask many questions and I have learned from the responses of employees across our many departments as well as from residents across our city. These responses have shaped my thinking and vision for city leadership in important ways. As I continue to serve on the City Council, I will use my leadership experiences to foster a culture where we ask better questions and engage in rigorous debate to ensure we are making the best decisions possible.
Based on my conversations with department heads and the communication I have received from constituents, I have identified a few priorities that would be the focus of my continued leadership on the City Council.
1. Expand the definition of safety to encompass all aspects of safety
Sandy City has a history of keeping its residents safe. Time and again, residents have expressed significant satisfaction with the services that our police department, fire department and public works department provide. Our city will continue to get the small things right that ensure our residents physical safety continues to be our highest priority. In addition to continuing these efforts, it is time to focus our energies and efforts on an expanded definition of safety: physical and mental wellness.
The Healthy Sandy Partnership has a list of a variety of partners who are working to provide people with opportunities to improve their health, safety and wellness. I will continue to serve as the City Council liaison to the Healthy Sandy Steering Committee to ensure we are even more effective in contributing to the physical and mental wellness of residents. Additionally, I will cultivate partnerships and pursue grant funding that will enable Sandy City to:
Invest in Alta Canyon by creating a hub of recreation and activity that is accessible to all and contributes to the overall health of our residents.
Build upon the great success of the Sandy Arts Guild by increasing opportunities for residents to be both consumers and producers of the performing arts.
Provide outstanding parks and trails that allow residents to stay active as they enjoy the beauty of our open spaces. Research shows us that clean air and open spaces promote health and well being. Beyond the research are the voices of our residents. Local and statewide surveys reveal that our open spaces are at the heart of what draws people to our city. We must collaborate around solutions to the challenges facing our canyons and trails. We must also work to protect and preserve our parks.
2. Address the need for housing affordability and plan for responsible growth
As an avid reader, I have been studying the topic of growth to understand the recommended approaches to strategic planning. I believe this quote from this podcast offers a vision we should all embrace:
“Utah’s communities are a bit like our children—they will grow. Along the way, we have the opportunity to influence their growth in the hope that they will be something we can be proud of years down the road. Decisions we make today will have consequences for generations.”
As I continue to serve on the City Council, I will seek out partners who partner understand the need to meet the market demand while preserving our sense of community. Through these collaborative efforts Sandy City will:
Provide various housing options for those who seek to enjoy all Sandy City has to offer but aren’t interested or can’t afford a traditional single family home with a yard. For example, consider the needs of our aging population in Sandy City and plan strategically for their needs so that they can remain independent for as long as possible.
Think innovatively about our land use and make decisions that make Sandy appealing to those who want to become long term residents of Sandy City while preserving the community feeling that is so appealing to those who currently reside in Sandy City. For example, embrace Accessory Dwelling Units and strategically determine areas for rezoning to multi-family housing.
Link economic development to our transportation and housing decisions. For example, there is limited undeveloped land in Sandy so we need to absorb growth in our city through mixed use redevelopment that is coordinated with high capacity transportation. This approach will allow us to preserve the character of our traditional neighborhoods.
3. Protect the watershed and address congestion in our canyons
As a member of the Central Wasatch Commission, I worked to bring diverse stakeholders together to consider solutions to the challenges we face in our canyons. From land use considerations to a Mountain Transportation System initiative to short-term projects that achieve immediate impact, I worked with Mayors and City Council members from our neighboring cities to wrestle with diverse perspectives and facilitate collaborative conversations that enable us to pursue consensus. Sandy City must continue to be a leader and have a strong voice. As we do so, we will:
Proactively deliberate with stakeholders about transportation needs in Sandy City as decisions are being made about transportation in our canyons.
Think innovatively about the investments we need to make to use existing infrastructure to provide a connected system across the city.
Ensure that our strategic thinking is driven by the need to distribute those who are headed to our canyons across the city as they access transit within our city.
4. Cultivate Productive Economic Partnerships
Sandy City has a history of being one of the best managed cities in the state as well as the nation. This reputation is well earned and came as a result of collaboration with key stakeholders and economic partnerships that have generated revenue for our city.
To improve economic opportunity I will partner with others to accomplish what the Utah League of Cities and Towns encourages cities to do: “Think regionally and act locally.” Sandy city has its own unique challenges and visions for the future, however a positive working relationship with our neighboring cities is essential for us to achieve the goals we have for our community. It is time for Sandy City to once again be seen as a leader in the state.
Our decisions today chart our course for the next 20+ years as growth is inevitable. We must make smart decisions that bring new revenue into our city while preserving what makes our city such a wonderful place to live—open spaces, parks & trails, the Arts, community events, and most importantly a safe community where all feel welcome. As we consider these economic partnerships, we should use data to inform our decisions and seek collaborative partnerships that will:
Foster and recruit a diverse economy with a multitude of industries
Promote educational opportunities for all
Encourage entrepreneurship and homegrown businesses
Champion small businesses and recruit small businesses to our city
5. Strengthen our partnership with Canyons School District
Canyons School District is filled with passionate educators who are investing in the future of our city by educating our children. As I continue to serve on the City Council, I will prioritize this relationship.