Everybody likes Dave Buhler—and they really like the fact that he’s gone. Not that he died or left the country or anything. Buhler tossed his Salt Lake City Council seat to run for mayor instead, and that makes him very popular among the four hopefuls for District 6.
This is a district which, even in a nonpartisan race, actually voted in an avowed Republican—and kept him there. This time around, there’s not a Republican in sight. At least, not in plain sight.
William Huckins, 59, says he doesn’t like to affiliate with any party, but he did spend 20 years in the Air Force, from which he retired in 1989. He has worked for the Transportation Security Administration and just came back from three years of airport security work in Iraq. All this and he still “applauds” Rocky Anderson for protesting against President George W. Bush. “It’s his right,” he says.
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Huckins ran unsuccessfully for an open council seat in 1989, and he still wants a shot. He’s troubled by the development trends in Sugar House and worries about how a Super Wal-Mart on Foothill Boulevard will affect traffic and small businesses in the area. “That area up there is high-end people, not what Wal-Mart caters to. I really oppose it,” he says.
But it may be hard for him to get the word out. He has yet to put up signs, and his fund-raising has been negligible.
You can’t say that for J.T. Martin, who’s raised more than $27,000 already and is feeling his oats. That’s appropriate for the owner of Emigration Market who likes to point out that he’s the only candidate who lives and works in his neighborhood.
“My competitors—one’s a lawyer who works downtown doing billable hours and another’s a corporate-etiquette counselor. I not only live in the neighborhood, but I work in it. You can find me here selling bananas,” Martin says.
This, after traveling the world for years with corporate America. Martin almost went broke in his neighborhood, but family helped him through the rough spots, and his business is thriving now. He worked through some zoning issues, issues which are now one of his political priorities. Open space, recycling and safety are others.
The lawyer he refers to is Roger McConkie who, almost by birthright,is an active political Democrat. His father, Oscar McConkie Jr., was a legislator and state regent, to name a few political callings.
It is the polarization of politics—nationally and locally—that has pushed Roger McConkie into politics. “We get these one-issue politicians who care very passionately about an issue but aren’t necessarily qualified on the whole range,” he says. His goal is to “bring civility back to City Hall.”
The Downtown Rising concept intrigues him to the point of envisioning a green belt around the city to give urban dwellers recreational opportunities. The compatible-infill issue that addresses limits on building is also of interest. “My goal is to try to find a middle ground where we’re not running people out of Salt Lake to build bigger homes, but there can be some limits so they don’t encroach on the neighborhood,” says McConkie, who as a civil litigator prefers mediation and peaceful resolutions of conflict.
McConkie has raised some $17,000. Ellen Reddick is in third place with about $10,000. She’s the one Martin calls a corporate etiquette consultant. And Martin thinks she’s a stealth Republican.
Not so, says Reddick, who has been a Democratic precinct chair and has been endorsed by Rep. Roz McGee and Salt Lake City Councilman Soren Simonsen. She is also the community council chair for Bonneville Hills. Years ago, Reddick registered with the GOP because her mother was involved with the party. “I was born and raised a very, very conservative Republican,” she says. “But the events of the day and my life travels brought me more to the left. … I believe in compassion and helping folks.”
Reddick is a citizen planner, which means she has taken college classes in community planning. She has owned her own business, is president of the Vest Pocket Coalition and is a business communications consultant. Traffic and transportation are primary focuses, while open space and diversity are other issues important to Reddick.
What about District 2? There will be no primary in District 2 as community activist Michael Clara tries a second time to unseat Van Turner. Turner won 57 percent of the vote in 2003. So far this year, Turner has raised no campaign funds, although he’s loaned himself $1,300. Clara, who also ran for Salt Lake District School Board and lost by only one vote, has raised a little more than $3,000. cw