Rocky III? Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants the job back

Nov 30, 2022, 4:19 PM
Rocky Anderson annouced he is running for mayor again...
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson speaks at a campaign event in Salt Lake City on Wednesday afternoon. Anderson, who last held office in 2008, announced he will run for mayor again in 2023. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is officially entering the ring again.

Anderson, who served as mayor of Utah’s capital from 2000 through 2008, formally announced his campaign for the 2023 mayoral election during an event Wednesday afternoon, citing an increase in crime and issues he has with the policies of current Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and her predecessor Jackie Biskupski.

“I look forward to an open, fair, and positive campaign about the relative records of achievement and capabilities of the candidates, in and outside of government, and an informative campaign that will allow voters to decide who is best suited to lead our great city toward a future we all deserve,” he said, at the tail end of a campaign address held at Cake Hair Salon in the city’s Ballpark neighborhood.

Anderson’s announcement isn’t much of a surprise, as he confirmed to KSL in August that he planned to run for his old job again during the 2023 election cycle. He led Utah’s capital city when it hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Part of his message Wednesday was about how the city fares on scales issued by national outlets and magazines.

“We were proud to host the world and show off our amazing city during the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games. Now, Salt Lake City is listed among the most dangerous cities in the country,” he said. “Our city — my home for almost my entire adult life and a place I’ve always loved — is degraded, filthy in so many areas, unaffordable for most people and experiencing the failures of homelessness policies that have wholly ignored best practices.

“Visitors to our city leave shaking their heads, asking, ‘What has happened to your city?'”

National lists offer differing opinions of the city on a U.S. scale. For instance, NeighborhoodScout did rank Salt Lake City as the 80th-most dangerous city in the country with a violent crime rate of 9.4 per 1,000 in its annual list of the 100 most dangerous cities released at the start of the year. The demographics website noted that a 26% year-over-year increase in violent crime put the city back on its list for the first time since 2018.

But U.S. News & World Report rated Salt Lake City as the 23rd best city to live in its Top 150 list for 2022-2023, citing high quality of life, job market and desirability scores. Insider also rated Salt Lake City at No. 23 on its list of the Top 50 places to live based on cost of living and quality of life this year.

Mendenhall downplayed Anderson’s announcement when asked about it during a press briefing about homelessness earlier Wednesday.

“I’m focused on managing this city and governing, and not campaigning,” she said. “We’re focused on helping people be safe and not scaring them — doing the work to get this city well-managed is what I’m focused on.”

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Rocky III? Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants the job back