The Billboard Race | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Billboard Race 

Billboards and their influence in the Salt Lake mayoral race. Let's focus on consequences for teens. Plus, the varied path to educational success after high school.

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The Billboard Race
It's a known fact that there's no love lost between Reagan Outdoor Advertising and Jim Dabakis. Those ugly-ass billboards have been an effective political tool. And, oh, how Reagan loves the Salt Lake City mayoral races. The company has a political action committee that last mayoral election put up free billboards for all of Ralph Becker's opponents. Yeah, ROA didn't like Becker—and he lost. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that a watered-down billboard law passed the Senate with those voting "yes" receiving an average of $1,388 in contributions, while Dabakis took nothing. Fast forward and ROA has put up three free billboards for Dabakis' opponents. You can't blame his opponents. Their name recognition is in the toilet while Dabakis has long been a successful self-promoter. What does it all mean? Yes, ROA can influence elections. But more to the point—voters tend to choose their candidates based on name identification, not policies.


Consequences Not Labels
You might have missed this story, maybe because it was in the Park Record. Your esteemed president was ranting again about the leftists and how "they" stifle the First Amendment. "Anyone can become a target of the left's brutal campaign to punish dissent," Trump said. Turns out this was not about Antifa or those wacky Democrats. No, this was about a kid. "Earlier this year, in Park City, Utah, a leftist released pepper spray into a high school auditorium to shut down a Turning Point USA meeting," he said. Well, should we really be labeling teenagers who pull stupid pranks? The teen was trying to stop a conservative club from holding an event. It didn't go well. But this wasn't "the left." It was one teenager. In January, another teen was labeled a racist after he blocked a Native American in Washington, D.C. Here's an idea: Quit the public shaming and focus on consequences for youths.


New Paths to Success
The debate over college continues. Is college the right choice? The answer is always, "It depends." Yes, college holds an economic advantage for some, depending on the discipline they choose. Nowadays, technical jobs often draw high salaries, and those careers take different educational paths. These are not easy decisions for high school students. The Utah System of Higher Education is trying to make that easier by starting a program to place college advisers in the state's 150 public high schools by the 2021-22 school year, according to a KUER 90.1 FM story. Three dozen recent college graduates will help students chart their paths. It will cost about $7 million, but it's money well spent toward closing the racial gap and helping youths navigate the bureaucracy.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses and Citizen Revolt columns. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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