A lawyer, a CEO and a lobbyist are in a tub on the Great Salt Lake. …
It sounds suspiciously like the setup to a joke, something you’d expect to hear at a bar from a guy who has been draining pitchers all night. But mix it up and put the same characters in the 2003 Salt Lake City mayoral race and the drunkard will either wet himself with excitement or be so bored he staggers into the men’s room for relief.
Politics usually has that effect on people. It divides the masses into two camps: the interested, and those who’d rather expel the issues, debates and policies, then flush.
Instead of focusing on Main Street, The Gateway, names and nicknames, or even the west side, City Weekly chose to focus on not just a lawyer, a CEO and a lobbyist, but on the candidates: Rocky Anderson, Molonai Hola and Frank Pignanelli.
The reason: Before they were politicians, they were human beings, and the decisions they make as politicians will reflect their personal character. If you’re looking for another article discussing the so-called “issues,” pick up The Salt Lake Tribune or Deseret Morning News. City Weekly will tell you who these men are, whether they prefer boxers or briefs and when they last called their mothers—in an attempt to discover why they hold the beliefs they do.
Odd questions can reveal personality traits that might go unnoticed through dozens of interviews. So far, the dailies’ discussion of personal issues has added little to the campaign. The D-News, in a handful of articles, has painted Pignanelli in the glowing colors of an as-close-to-a-Mormon-as-a-Catholic-can-get family man. Coverage of Anderson’s campaign has double cloaked the incumbent with the cape of villain and crusader. And Hola has been unable to compete with the more experienced pigeons for popcorn kernels in the public forum.
What little media attention Hola has received came all at once, one weekend in August, when reporters disclosed a 1998 guilty in abeyance plea for a misdemeanor domestic violence charge involving his first wife. For those brief moments, Hola became front-page material.
“I’m not discouraged, not at all,” Hola said after the news broke, revealing his laid-back Polynesian style. “I knew it would be brought up, bro, but I didn’t want anyone to ever say I let my past hold me back.”
So he took to the streets, ringing doorbells and meeting with citizen groups and neighborhood councils, trying to build name recognition and a donor pool.
Hola, 38, an affluent East Bencher who emigrated as a child from Tonga to Salt Lake City’s west side, is now married to Lindsay, daughter of Salt Lake 2002 Olympic bid leader Tom Welch. He is CEO of Icon, an information technology company that employs more than 100 people. He doesn’t shy away from the fact that he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Hola is not only the only minority in the non-partisan race, he is also the sole Republican, but that doesn’t mean the state’s richest party has been throwing money at him. According to Hola, he hasn’t seen a shiny nickel from the party. But, once again, he isn’t complaining. “I’ve never donated a penny to the party before. They didn’t even know who I was when I announced I was running,” Hola said.
Hola’s $75,000 campaign piggy bank looks like a stack of quarters next to Anderson’s $500,000 and Pignanelli’s $230,000, but Hola doesn’t care. “It has always been a grass-roots campaign. That is how it is going to be successful,” he said. When Hola’s out walking streets, he is always dressed like money. His typical uniform includes a black suit, a conservative tie and a white, well-pressed shirt complete with silvery cuff links.
His fashion sense has something to do with his historical hero, George Washington, who always wore a military uniform. Hola hopes the clothes will become his defining trademark, like Abraham Lincoln’s top hat or Hugh Heffner’s silk pajamas.
He’s convinced he can bust through the primaries. A late August Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll showed Hola carrying 17 percent of the vote—10 percent more than he carried four months earlier. “It’s all about momentum, baby,” Hola said.
Predicting he’ll squeak through, surpassing Pignanelli, Hola folds his arms, leans back in his executive chair at campaign/Icon headquarters and smiles his big smile.
But Pignanelli, according to the D-News/KSL-TV poll, has a 10 percent lead on Hola. At Pignanelli headquarters—the loft offices that also house his lobbying company—campaign staffers seem more set on discrediting Anderson than worrying about Hola catching the Pig’s tail.
The pitch: “With Frank, it’s a whole new ball game!”
Pignanelli, 43, said the city isn’t better off now than it was three years ago when Anderson took office, and the city needs a change—aka a new mayor.
“It isn’t just because people don’t like Rocky,” Pignanelli said, explaining his 7 percent poll climb since April, “but they like what I have to offer. There are a lot of people who support me that like Rocky, but they like what I have done in the past with the Legislature, and they like the way I do business.”
For a living, Pignanelli lobbies lawmakers for clients including Union Pacific Railroad, Nordstrom, and suburban mall owner Woodbury Corp. Before he was a lobbyist, he was one of the lobbied. From 1986 to 1996, he served in the House of Representatives where for six years he was minority leader.
His love of khakis may stem from his student days in the early ’80s at the University of Utah College of Law. He’s extremely casual when it comes to clothing. When with wife Darcie Dixon and their three kids, Frank prefers tank tops. At work, no ties, and a sports coat only when he has to. He’s a chit-chatter who can’t sit still. If his arms are folded, his legs are bouncing and when his legs are still, he lets his hands do the hoppin’.
“Residents are nervous. They hear things from their friends and read things in the paper, and they know something needs to change,” Pignanelli said.
Anderson is admittedly concerned at the poll stats. “I don’t take anything for granted,” he said, and for good reason. Since April, his voter fan club has decreased from 49 percent to 41 percent, according to the D-News/KSL-TV poll.
It’s a reality that confuses and saddens Anderson, who believes he did everything within his power to create a good compromise for the Main Street Plaza.
Overall, “the campaign is going really well,” Anderson said. “I am really proud of the kind of campaign we have been running,” Anderson said, before slightly raising his voice to rant about Pignanelli’s “negative campaign.”
Anderson thinks long and hard before giving any answer, and when he responds, the words come slowly in clauses separated by long silences. He often begins a sentence staring right into your eyes, then looks to his right to finish the statement. He is obviously uncomfortable when the conversation turns personal except when he speaks about his son Luke, who recently transferred from the U. to New York University.
And, although he doesn’t belong to any organized religion, Anderson is a true follower of political correctness (see his response to question No. 39—City Weekly stands corrected).
Campaign headquarters buzzes with volunteers who have an almost cultlike zeal for Anderson’s politicking. Some volunteers aren’t even city residents but seem just as willing to give 30 hours a week without pay to be a part of the team. It’s a stark contrast to the media portrayal of Anderson’s overbearing employer tactics at City Hall.
Anderson predicts he’ll win, not just in October, but also again in November. If not, will he go back to the courtroom? “Yeah,” he said. But he also has been heard to discuss a possible future run for Congress.
And we thought the one about the lawyer, the CEO, and the lobbyist was funny.
Players’ Pop Quiz:
About 100 random questions were hurled at the candidates who want to lead the city by the lake. The following is an edited response meant to conjure a few kicks and giggles—and quite possibly some information that will help residents know how to cast their votes Oct. 7.
1. Use two words to describe the campaign thus far:
RA: Invigorating. Positive.
MH: Strategic. Interesting.
FP: (Laughs) I guess … energetic
2. If you were an animal what animal would you be?
FP: Probably a dog.
3. What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
RA: Collecting urine at a methadone clinic in graduate school.
MH: I was an electrical engineering aide at an air base when I was 18.
FP: In college … I worked construction for a period of time, and I had to go to the city dump every day. It was disgusting.
4. Who is your favorite person in history?
RA: It’s a toss-up between Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson.
MH: George Washington.
FP: Harry Truman. He was a common man who cared about the average citizen. He made tough decisions and started many of the great social programs we have today.
5. What was the last good book you read?
RA: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.
MH: Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand.
FP: Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen Ambrose.
6. What is an album you can’t live without?
RA: Dave Brubeck’s Time Changes.
MH: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
FP: Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits.
7. Your thoughts on Legacy Highway?
RA: Totally misconceived.
MH: Lets get that road built!
FP: I wouldn’t have put my name on the lawsuit. I would have gone up and negotiated with Davis County for a road that would not contain so many environmental issues.
8. White, sourdough, rye, wheat or mixed grain?
RA: Mixed grain.
9. Where did you go for your last vacation?
RA: Peru. A four-day hike up an Inca trail to Machu Picchu.
FP: Last year, we went up to Montana to Fairmont Hot Springs.
10. Last Friday night (Sept. 5) where were you, and who were you with?
RA: I was at a reception program honoring Ted Wilson. Then a housewarming party.
MH: Ted Wilson’s retirement party with my wife, Lindsay.
FP: I was with my wife and three children. I brought home pizza.
11. When was the last time you took public transportation?
RA: Two weeks ago.
FP: About four or five months ago.
12. Where were you going?
RA: The opening of Cauldron Park at the university.
FP: The courthouse.
13. How much does it cost to ride TRAX? ($1.25)
MH: It depends, doesn’t it? $1.25.
FP: A buck? I just use the free zone.
14. The bus? ($1.25)
RA: $1, I think.
MH: I don’t know. I don’t take the bus.
FP: I have no idea.
15. Where and when were you the happiest?
RA: I would have to say it is a tie between the day my son was born, and the day I learned he was accepted to transfer to NYU.
MH: I am pretty happy right now.
FP: When my daughter was born.
16. What is your most marked characteristic?
FP: I am passionate and animated about the largest and smallest of things.
17. Who is your favorite painter?
RA: Van Gogh.
MH: (Points to a “Starry Night” framed print on a chair).
FP: We buy a lot of local art … Kathy Wilson.
18. What in your opinion is the lowest depth of human misery?
RA: Being subjected to see loved ones tortured or murdered.
MH: The depression years of Russia during the writings of Dostoevsky.
19. What is Soylent Green?
RA: Soylent Green is what they ate in the movie Soylent Green. A product made of people.
MH: Pardon me? Soylent Green? I don’t have an answer for that.
FP: (Laughs) It is a cracker or cracker-like substance that Charleton Heston and others in the future ate for food that was probably made from humans.
20. How much is a gallon of milk, not on sale? ($2.35/gallon local average price.)
RA: It depends … $1.79.
21. What is the average rent in Utah for a two-bedroom apartment? ($694, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition)
RA: Two-bedroom apartment? $550.
MH: I’m going to guess $550.
22. Favorite Rocky movie?
RA: I think Rocky II. My son’s mother started having contractions during that movie, and we sped down 700 East at 95 mph to get to the hospital.
MH: Number one.
FP: The first one.
23. When was the last time you called your mother?
RA: My mother died years ago, so not recently.
MH: Last night.
24. Who is SLC Chief of Police? (Rick Dinse)
RA: Rick Dinse.
MH: Denzy (pronounced Din C).
FP: Rick Dinse.
25. SLC Fire Chief? (Charles Querry)
RA: Chuck Querry.
MH: I forgot.
FP: I have a mental block. … I don’t know.
26. Oprah or Dr. Phil?
RA: I don’t watch television. If I did, it would be Oprah.
MH: Dr. Phil.
27. What is your favorite SLC nightspot?
RA: Don’t do that to me. It depends on what I am doing. But if I am bringing someone in from out of town, and I want to show them something unusual and fun, it is the Tavernacle.
MH: Capitol Theatre.
FP: I am the father of 2- year-old twins, I don’t go to nightspots anymore, but if I could … probably Squatters. My wife and I like that place.
28. SLC’s best cup of coffee?
RA: Definitely not my campaign headquarters.
FP: This one’s a tie: Cup of Joe and Java Joes.
29. Where is the gay country-Western themed bar The Trapp located? (102 S. 600 West)
RA: It’s down 5th West and 1st South. Maybe 6th West.
MH: I wouldn’t know.
FP: Is it 1st South and 6th West?
30. What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to this city since the Olympics?
RA: The finding of Elizabeth Smart.
MH: I will say the Grand America and the Gateway. (Both were completed before the Games.)
FP: Finding Elizabeth Smart.
31. What day of the week does City Weekly come out? (Wednesday evening or Thursday morning).
FP: I believe it is Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
32. Boxers or briefs?
33. What’s your favorite movie?
RA: Of all time? That is tough. To Kill a Mockingbird.
FP: (Monty Python’s) The Holy Grail.
34. Favorite beer?
RA: Red Rock’s Hefe-Weisen.
FP: St. Provo Girl.
35. ’80s Lakers or ’80s Celtics?
MH: ’80s Celtics.
36. Where are the women in this race?
RA: They’re helping me get reelected.
MH: I was hoping (Paula) Julander would run.
FP: They are running mine and Rocky’s campaign.
37. Who are the mayors of West Valley City and South Salt Lake? (WVC Dennis Nordfelt, SSL Wes Losser)
RA: Dennis Nordfelt of West Valley City and Wes Losser of South Salt Lake.
MH: It is on the tip of my tongue. …
FP: Mayor Losser of South Salt Lake City. I forgot the name of the other.
38. Why did the pioneers come to Utah?
RA: To escape religious persecution.
MH: For freedom of religion.
FP: They were escaping persecution in the Midwest.
39. What is the original name of Salt Lake City? (Great Salt Lake City)
RA: The original name? Back up. … You mean, the Native American name? I believe you are looking for Deseret.
MH: I think it was Beehive.
FP: Great Salt Lake City.
40. What is the worst piece of publicly displayed art in the city?
RA: Bicycle wheels sculpture at the TRAX stop up 4th South. It’s horrendous.
MH: There aren’t any.
FP: I don’t have an answer.
41. Britney or Christina?
RA: Christina because she was at the Closing Ceremonies.
FP: I have an 8-year-old daughter who wants to dress like both of them so my answer is neither.
42. Who is the largest employer in the city boundaries? (The U of U)
RA: Probably The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints
MH: The U.
FP: The University of Utah.
43. Favorite side dish at Thanksgiving?
RA: Mashed potatoes.
MH: Coconut curry shrimp.
44. Favorite mixed drink?
RA: Good scotch on the rocks.
MH: Diet Coke with lemon.
45. Worst thing that has happened to you so far in the campaign?
RA: The horrendous photographs the D-News is pulling out of its archives.
MH: I can’t think of any.
FP: Having my children beggin’ me to stay home and not go out campaigning.
46. Favorite place to buy clothes?
FP: Nordstrom’s and Costco.
47. Tribune, Pillar, SLUG or Deseret Morning News?
MH: I subscribe to The Tribune.
FP: Tribune and D-News.
48. Last sporting event?
RA: Hispanic soccer game on the west side two months ago.
MH: U. football game.
FP: Ute football game.
49. What cars do you own?
RA: I am embarrassed to admit I own a ’93 Suburban that mostly sits in my driveway and a natural-gas Honda Civic.
MH: I own a ’98 Montero Sport and a ’99 Mercedes Benz 300 SE.
FP: A 1996 Mercury Sable, a 2000 Ford Explorer and somewhere tucked away in storage is a 1973 VW Beetle.
50. Who is your favorite president, and why?
RA: Abraham Lincoln, he brought the nation through a tremendously difficult and divisive period.
MH: Washington. He was a tremendously insecure man. He did not have a formal education, and if you see any paintings about the gathering to make the declaration, he was the only guy there who had a uniform on. He wanted to be somebody; he was among inventors and very brilliant guys and was able to take that.
FP: Truman. I already explained why (see question No. 4).
51. Stupidest thing you did in high school?
RA: I can’t tell you. If you want second or third-most stupid, I’ll tell you.
MH: I lost the state championship football game. I fumbled.
FP: Took a mannequin to a dance.
52. Who is your largest campaign contributor?
RA: Bruce Bastian, $22,500 (Co-founder of WordPerfect).
MH: Ken Thompson, $7,500 (College friend; owner, Jefferson Nationwide Mortgage Co.).
FP: Blue Cross and Blue Shield ($10,000).
53. How much money have you raised?
RA: Around $500,000.
54. How many McDonalds are in the city? (At least 15)
RA: Far too many.
MH: This would be a guess, but I would say 25.
FP: I’ll count the ones I have been to … add a few … I’m going to say nine.
55. When was the last time you went to the movies?
RA: This is really sad: Frida and Bowling for Columbine.
MH: Two weeks ago I saw S.W.A.T.
FP: Once again, I am the father of 2-and-a-half-year-old twins. We don’t go to the movies.
56. Where did you buy your shoes?
FP: ZCMI Malls’ (now closed) Famous Footwear.
57. Your Tie?
RA: The same place I get my suits made.
FP: I’m not wearing one.
58. Your watch?
RA: It’s a $10 knockoff that I bought in Washington, D.C. It says Swiss Army, but it is not.
MH: O.C. Tanner.
FP: A Main Street store now closed.
59. What are the names of Saddam’s two dead sons? (Uday and Qusay)
RA: Just don’t ask me to spell them. … How quickly we forget.
MH: Uhmmm. … I can’t pronounce them.
FP: Uday and Sasha (laugh).
60. First kiss?
RA: 8th grade.
MH: High school.
FP: At 14.
61. How do you get exercise?
RA: I work out at Apple Fitness, and I run.
MH: I do a little running, and I lift some weights.
FP: I lift weights and go running.
62. Your feelings on the Patriot Act?
RA: Quite possibly the most misnomered piece of legislation ever passed by Congress.
MH: I support the current administration.
FP: I certainly like parts of it, but I am concerned about some Big Brother aspects.
63. Any pets?
RA: An Amazon parrot.
FP: A dog—black Lab mix—and a black cat.
64. What is something about you that nobody knows about?
RA: Hmm … I’m tender.
MH: I play the ukulele.
FP: I like to wear tank tops.
Salt Lake City is a magnificent place to live, and it is getting even better. I am proud to be the mayor of this great city. During the last four years, we have had many tremendous accomplishments. We have built an astounding citywide after-school and summer youth program. We have brought health and vitality to a downtown that was faltering. We built the University light-rail line and have created unprecedented momentum toward a comprehensive regional transit system. We hosted the best-ever Winter Olympics. We created a world-class Library Square. We have made our streets more lively—and safer—with outdoor dining, street artists, better design and nationally recognized pedestrian initiatives. My vision for the next four years as your mayor is to build upon these accomplishments and provide an even better quality of life for all who live and work in Salt Lake City.
The people of our city are the source of our productivity, creativity and innovation. The diversity in Salt Lake City in terms of ethnicity, culture, religions, sexual orientations, age and economic status is essential in making our city unique, lively and interesting. As mayor, I have diversified city government and created many opportunities to honor and celebrate our increasing diversity. I have made participation in government a priority by creating many substantial opportunities for citizens from every part of our community to join in helping set the direction for our city. I have made it a priority to give young people tools to participate in the life of the city by providing them with opportunities to explore art, athletics, career opportunities and technology through our city’s first comprehensive set of youth programs.
Another important factor in the life of a city is its infrastructure—the condition of its streets, transportation systems, buildingS, parks, open spaces and other physical elements. As Mayor, I have worked with an amazing team to create the most progressive, comprehensive city-based environmental initiatives in the country. We are taking strong measures to protect our air and water, to conserve natural resources, to protect open spaces and reverse global warming. We are encouraging the use of alternative forms of transportation, such as transit, walking and bicycles to reduce our dependence on automobiles, and we are vastly improving our parks.
Ultimately, a successful community creates opportunities for people to have safe, interesting and fulfilling lives. With your support, I look forward to four more years of enormous progress—in the interest of all.
Salt Lake, it’s time to take back our city! Hi, I’m Molonai Hola, and I am optimistic about the future of Salt Lake. As an MBA graduate and successful business owner who employs 125 employees and makes payroll of $350,000 a month, I know what it takes to run a corporation. And Salt Lake City is a corporation. As the city’s chief executive officer, I will bring a business approach to the executive office.
Here is my vision for Salt Lake:
First, I will revitalize downtown by bringing businesses back to Salt Lake. I am convinced that by connecting Main Street and the Gateway through South Temple or Second South with small businesses, we will create a vibrant downtown.
Second, I will unite our city. I see Salt Lake with not east or west sides but one city. As a Tongan boy growing up in Salt Lake, I didn’t have a chip on my shoulder. I learned as a boy that finding the common bonds with others always leads to uniting causes. I bring that skill to the mayor’s office.
Third, I will make our communities safe. I will increase the number of police officers in the Police Department. I will support, not undermine, our police officers.
Fourth, I will lead with integrity. I will stay true to my word and will not make decisions based on political expediency.
And finally, I recognize that Salt Lake cannot be an island. We need to welcome our Davis and Utah County neighbors. I will work with both state and federal leaders whose support is critical to the growth of Salt Lake.
On Oct. 7, the people of Salt Lake will have to choose the type of leader they want in the mayor’s office. Let me tell you what I am and what I am not.
I am not a lawyer or professional politician. I am a businessman whose job is to run a corporation efficiently and responsibly.
I am not a professional lobbyist. I am a business owner who understands what it takes to be fiscally responsible. The mayor, by definition, is the CEO of this City—I am the only candidate who is a professional CEO.
I am not a liberal Democrat. I am a moderate Republican.
Salt Lake, I am the future of this city. On Oct. 7, say you want this change. Say you want to take back our city. Say Hola for Mayor.
The 2003 mayoral primary election is entering the final stretch, and I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to address the readers of the Salt Lake City Weekly who tend to be especially well-informed individuals known for making thoughtful, well-informed political decisions.
I’ve been involved politically for over two decades, during which I’ve dedicated myself to advancing the causes Democrats like me consider hallmarks of our political philosophy: animal rights, people-focused government, protection from the hatred often expressed toward minority groups and much more.
While in the Legislature, I was elected by my peers to represent them as House Minority Leader, where I continued to do my all to stand up for democratic ideals.
In that time, I learned one vital lesson: we can accomplish much more by working to bring all sides of an issue together than by driving them apart. It was only under those circumstances that the historic hate crimes legislation I sponsored managed to receive the approval of both the Republican-dominated Senate and the House. The same was true for the animal-rights legislation I sponsored and saw made into law.
Accomplishments such as these cannot be realized when deep divisions exist in those being brought to the negotiating table.
I believe that it is in part due to the divisiveness both created and made worse by the current administration that so little has been accomplished in the past four years.
Under the current administration, we’ve seen discord erupt between west side and east side, Mormons and those of other faiths, the mayor and the City Council, businesses and developers, Salt Lake and most other municipalities in the region, and so on.
If downtown is to become revitalized, if the west side is to prosper economically, if city government is to run more efficiently, if Salt Lake is to attain the status of the region’s preeminent center of business, culture, entertainment and recreation that it deserves, all sides must work together.
I am the only candidate with the public and private sector experience and track record to get Salt Lake back on track, adhering to true democratic principles and a commitment to heal the divisions that the current administration has allowed to form.
I am running for mayor of Salt Lake City because I envision a better place for all city residents and hope you’ll support me as I do my all to make it a reality.