Salt Lake Mayor-Elect Erin Mendenhall Outlines Transition Plan

Nov 7, 2019, 11:42 AM | Updated: 11:45 am
FILE - Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall (KSL TV)...
FILE - Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall (KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall spoke at the steps of the City and County Building to talk about the transition to her administration as the city’s next mayor.

Although the election results have not yet been officially certified, Mendenhall led State Senator Luz Escamilla by just over 5,800 votes in the latest tally.

Escamilla conceded the race Wednesday morning.

“I just congratulated Erin,” she said in a press release. “We had a good conversation and I wished her the best of luck as our city’s next mayor.”

“Although the final canvass isn’t for another 12 days, as we’ve seen in previous elections, the magnitude and complexity of a transition requires that we get as many work days as we can out of this time,” Mendenhall said Thursday.

Current Mayor Jackie Biskupski withdrew from her bid for a second term in March, citing a “serious and complex” personal situation.

In a controversial move when she first took office in 2015, Biskupski called on the resignation of nearly all Salt lake City department heads and employees in the mayor’s office. Each resignation was then reviewed to determine who would keep their jobs and who would be replaced.

Mendenhall was quick to say the transition to her administration would be much different.

“I will not be requesting the blanket resignation of department and division heads,” she said. “The process will soon be underway to assess political appointees’ interest in remaining in their current roles, and it’s only then that we’ll be discussing who is the right fit to lead the effort moving our city forward.”

Mendenhall set three goals for her transition – to be inclusive and equitable, make the transition seamless for businesses and residents, retain institutional memory in the city’s government.

Three people were named to lead the transition – committee co-chairs Maria Garciaz, the CEO of NeighborWorks Salt Lake; Natalie Gochnour, the associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah; and chief of staff Rachel Otto, who Mendenhall said would leave her position as the director of government relations for the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

“I am confident that these three women will not only help me implement my vision for Salt Lake City, but will bring their deep breadth of knowledge, vast relationships and diversity of experience to the table,” she said.

The transition committee was expected to begin work right away. Mendenhall said they would solicit feedback and ideas from community councils and neighborhood associations across the city.

She then planned to get into the community and speak with residents.

“After the final canvass on November 19, I will begin holding office hours in branch libraries across the city to give residents the opportunity to share their priorities for their neighborhoods and the city with me directly,” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall Talks About Mayoral Election

Erin Mendenhall talks about her apparent win in the Salt Lake Mayoral election

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, November 7, 2019

Among her most immediate efforts as mayor would be to continue her work toward healthier air.

Prior to serving on the city council, Mendenhall co-founded Breathe Utah, and has been serving as the chair of the State Air Quality Board.

She also planned to work towards a homeless solution and help with Salt Lake’s tech goals.

“Some issues of urgency and particular magnitude, like confronting our air quality problems, addressing the homelessness crisis, and building a tech ecosystem will require plans and urgent collaboration across city boundaries,” she said.

More details were expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Weaved throughout Mendenhall’s comment was a desire for inclusion among the city’s diverse communities.

“The more Salt Lakers who are engaged in the transition process, the better we are at being successful,” she said. “The Mendenhall administration will be ready on Day One to deliver results to Salt Lake.”

The inauguration of Salt Lake’s 36th mayor will be held the first Monday of January 2020. Mendenhall would be the city’s third female mayor, after Deedee Corradini and Jackie Biskupski.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Salt Lake Mayor-Elect Erin Mendenhall Outlines Transition Plan