The Mayor Bunch: Jenny Wilson | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Mayor Bunch: Jenny Wilson 

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Jenny Wilson "Experienced & Progressive"

Born Nov. 1, 1965—Scorpio
Married, two sons
Salt Lake County Councilwoman 2005-present, masters degree in public policy
Inactive LDS
Democrat, chief of staff to former Congressman Bill Orton, national Democratic campaign worker
Favorite drink: Vodka martini
Cars: A “small” 2002 Land Rover and a 2005 Jeep Cherokee.
Trademark characteristic: Daughter of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson
Obvious downside: Young

The Salt Lake County councilwoman made a splash with a reform agenda that included cleaning up the county’s ethical swamp, but she’s still better known to some as the daughter of former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson. Selling herself as progressive, Wilson is the darling of gays and unions but also has friends in business and among county power brokers.

Know Her Friends
Randy Horiuchi—The 16-year Salt Lake County Council member is the Teflon Don of county politics and if Wilson is elected it will be partly due to his blessing. Horiuchi (a $1,000 Wilson donor) and fellow Councilman Joe Hatch ($1,500) long entertained thoughts of themselves becoming Salt Lake City mayor but backed down in favor of a united front for fellow councilwoman and Democrat Wilson, who additionally has the support of County Mayor Peter Corroon. Wilson gets donations from many county employees, contractors and appointees.

Gays—Salt Lake City’s moneyed gays have gone overwhelmingly for Wilson who made an unsuccessful bid on the Salt Lake County Council to get domestic partner benefits for county employees. Exclusive Wilson donors include millionaire software developer Bruce Bastian ($7,500), former Equality Utah Chairwoman Jane Marquardt ($7,500), several of the city’s most prominent gay attorneys, and key members of the Stonewall Democrats. Wilson also receives support from prominent women and women’s groups, including key figures at the Rape Recovery Center; former director of the ACLU of Utah Dani Eyer and Cassie Dippo, former Common Cause spokeswoman.

Jeff Wright—The rich Republican donor and one-time GOP congressional candidate has put all his chips on Wilson, giving her $5,500. His choice seems odd but might be explained by the fact that Wright is a former member of the U of U Kappa Sigma fraternity, attended decades earlier by Wilson’s father. (Wilson is also the mayor of choice for Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s former Chief of Staff Jason Chaffetz.) Wilson received significant support from others connected to her famous father, including employees and donors of the U’s Hinckley Institute, where Ted Wilson was once director. Former U President Chase Peterson backs Wilson.

Business—Wilson says she’d support small business as mayor. The chief executive of agrees, with $7,500. So does the largest shareholder of Utah’s ClearOne ($2,000), and Dealer’s Choice Automotive ($7,500).

Real estate developers—Wilson gets donations from executives of the Gardner Company. Gardner’s partner in The Gateway, Boyer Co., gave Wilson $2,500 through its South Jordan Town Center. Arbor Commercial Real Estate, which last year cleared away a Cottonwood Heights mobile-home park to make way for million-dollar homes, gave $5,000. A shopping center represented by Arbor gave $2,500. Wilson is the favorite candidate of the principal broker of real estate firm Commerce CRG. Real estate information service Newreach gives $2,000. Ninigret Park Development ($5,000), Northstar Builders ($3,000)  and mortgage broker AMB ($3,700) also like Wilson.

The arts—The kind you wear fur to. Wilson backers—such as Carolyn Abravanel, wife of Symphony Hall’s namesake conductor—also back the ballet, symphony and opera (which coincidentally perform in county-owned halls).

Endorsements—Unions. Wilson gets all of the official union endorsements, including the Salt Lake City firefighters and the public employees union AFSCME. While candidate Ralph Becker has most all of the current Democratic state lawmakers sewed up, Wilson gets official stamps of approval from many who used to be somebody in the state Legislature or the Democratic Party, including former Utah Democratic Party Chairman Donald Dunn and past Utah Attorney General Jan Graham. Wilson additionally is endorsed by current Salt Lake County Democratic Chairman Christian Burridge, the Utah Democratic Black Caucus and Utah king of easy listening Kurt Bestor.

Out-of-town money—Anheuser Bush gave $2,000; PacifiCorp’s D.C. lobbyist gave $100; and the D.C.-based Communication Workers of America gave $500. Donations also come from individuals in D.C. where Wilson worked as a young lobbyist and, later, as chief of staff to Utah Congressman Bill Orton. A former executive of the Smithsonian Institution gave $1,000. The communications director for a U.S. Senator from Michigan also donated. Massachusetts is a significant source of contributions to Wilson who holds a degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Know Her Enemies
Rocky Anderson—The current mayor wouldn’t call himself an enemy; he’s a long-time friend of Wilson’s father Ted Wilson. But in private e-mails, Anderson appeared to try to talk Jenny out of running, questioning if she has time to lead the city as the mother of two young children. Wilson has turned the critique upside down, saying her children increased her concern for air quality and education.

Know Her B.S.
She’s “Experienced”
Translation: “I’m not that young.” In her 41 years, Wilson has held several high profile political and managerial posts but for short periods. Three years into her first term on the County Council, she previously served as chief of staff to three-term Democratic Congressman Bill Orton and was volunteer director for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

She’s “Progressive”
Translation: “How come all the lefties are voting for Becker?” At the County Council, Wilson sponsored proposals to grant domestic partner benefits to gay employees and clean up campaign finances. She started an air quality panel. Her backers include former Rocky Anderson aide Deeda Seed and the liberal Southwest Carpenters Union, but Utah Democratic Party’s “progressive” wing is going Becker.

Rocky Meter
31 Proof
Like Rocky: Rainbow flag would fly high at city hall, first name ends with “Y.”

Not like Rocky:
Big sky-bridge fan.

Back to the Mayor Bunch
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