If I still lived in Salt Lake City, I wouldn’t be writing this. I would be too careful and cautious and worried about offending anyone to say what I really think. I left the Beehive State a year ago and now feel even more free to speak my mind.
I know and like many of the folks running for mayor of Salt Lake City. Jim Dabakis, Luz Escamilla, Erin Mendenhall and David Garbett are all people I admire. I have worked closely with all of them in different capacities. I would call each of them a friend. They all have traits that make them compelling mayoral candidates and would bring something different and distinct to the job.
And yet, I can say with absolute conviction that the best candidate is Stan Penfold. Stan has the right skill set, experience, relationships, values and public policy background to take Salt Lake City to the next level.
In many ways, the mayor is like the CEO of a large nonprofit organization. Having run the Utah AIDS Foundation for decades, Stan has the right administrative acumen to manage the city’s affairs. He knows how to build and maintain budgets, manage HR issues and create a sense of community. The importance of having a skilled manager in the role of mayor shouldn’t be undervalued.
Stan is also a policy wonk. He got his political start in the community council world and understands the role of neighborhoods and districts in creating a strong city. Stan is a consensus builder and is uniquely suited to stitch together the various tribes that make up Salt Lake City. As a gay man, he understands how it feels to be an outsider and minority. But he doesn’t let his orientation define him.
Stan has the right personality to be a great mayor. He doesn’t let emotion cloud his thinking. He is reasoned, thoughtful and thinks about the long-term consequences of his decisions and actions. He will not pick fights, but he will staunchly and thoughtfully defend the interest of the people he represents. I saw him do that time and again in his eight years on the Salt Lake City Council.
I still have great affection for the city where I lived for nearly 50 years and where I spent the bulk of my career trying to build a stronger community. My endorsement and support for Stan Penfold is absolutely sincere and comes from a place of respect and trust for the work I know he will do as mayor.
Jason Mathis, St. Petersburg, Fla., is a former executive director of the Downtown Alliance of Salt Lake City.