Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Remarks for Final City Council Meeting

We received a wonderful fire Ax from Local 1645
Sixteen years ago as I began this journey as a member of the Salt Lake City Council, the skyline was a little different, I had less white hair, and I was this 31 year old unknown kid from Rose Park who is Bob and Verda Mae Christensen’s son.  I-15 had yet to be rebuilt, the North-south line of Light Rail was under construction and the Gateway Area was just a discussion, hidden by overpasses and freeway off-ramps coming into Downtown Salt Lake City.  To really date myself, I was one of the first non-IT users of Microsoft Outlook because I needed an email system that could be used outside of city offices!
            On a personal note, my daughter Jessica had just turned 7 and was in First Grade.  Now she is a senior at Utah State and will graduate a year from now as an Elementary School Teacher.  Sarah was a long awaited present, who came to us after taking office and she just started Innovations High at age 14 and will most likely be graduating three years from now, with a chance of having her Associates Degree from Salt Lake Community College as well.   Nearly their entire lifetimes have been accompanied by this service and I will forever be grateful for their love and devotion and the fine representation of the future success of the youth of our community.
            To Cathy, who has literally been my partner in every way, words cannot express my thanks for your love and devotion.  Putting up with endless political functions and being dropped off at the grocery store door so you could go in and out in less than 15 minutes, rather than the 30 to 45 if I accompanied you.  You have carried the disproportionate burden of our household and today’s recognition is as much yours as it is mine.  As a point of personal privilege, I would like to ask not only my immediate family, but extended family who have been there through the years as support to us, to please stand and ask for your applause. 
            In spending every Tuesday night and earlier in my tenure Thursday as well, I spent over 800 evenings in City Council Meetings over the last 16 years.  For better or worse, you get to know people well, and many have become life-long friends.  I express my thanks to my colleagues both past and present, who include Joanne, Tom, Deeda, Roger, Bryce, Keith, Van, Nancy, Dave, Eric, Jill, Dale, Soren, Luke, JT, Stan, Kyle and Charlie, 18 in all. While not every issue was in agreement, I learned from each of you and appreciated the perspective you brought to the discussion.  One of the sorely missed elements of the public discussion today, is the notion of respectful disagreement and the need to compromise.  For the most part, I’ve experienced this over the last 16 years and am grateful to each of you for being part of that experience.  Jill, thanks for sticking around for 12 of those years and putting up with me and teaching me how we may have different approaches to a common goal.
            My recent change in employment in working in the Administration of Salt Lake County Mayor has given me a new appreciation for the challenges of the other have of governmental process!  However even before that, I was appreciative of the mostly productive dialogue that existed with the three Mayors the residents of Salt Lake City have afforded me the opportunity of association and I express my thanks, to Mayor Corradini, Mayor Anderson and Mayor Becker for your respective leadership of our city and your willingness to find productive solutions for the city and residents we have been honored to serve.  Mayor Becker in particular, have afforded me your friendship and concern and your genuine interest in my personal life, I wish you the best as you continue to lead our city into one of the Great American Cities
            I have really enjoyed my association with other local and appointed officials from around the State, including four governors who have given me the opportunity to serve on many State and Regional bodies.  This year I concluded my services as President of the Utah League of Cities & Towns and was reminded time and again, that despite our size, we share many of the same needs as other communities in this State.  Additionally, I express my thanks to my colleagues from around the State who afforded me that opportunity to represent them in important discussions and decisions.
            My thanks to the City Council and Redevelopment Agency Staff and other city staff members who have worked with me over the years.  They are dedicated and committed to their work and many have become great personal friends as we have watched our respective families grow and mature as we have served together.  My thanks to both Cory and Cindy Gust-Jenson.  Cindy because she took endless calls from me and Cory because he put up with them.  Perhaps the most difficult aspects of turning out the lights and handing in the keys, will be to say good bye to one of the most competent and effective staffs that I’ve ever been given the opportunity to know. 
            One of the more interesting phone calls we would receive on occasion at our home is a constituent who would call our home to talk with me and be surprised, that I was at work, not realizing I also had another job.  Over the years, I was dependent on employers and supervisors who would support my public service and I wanted to personally thank my former colleagues at Zions Securities Corporation, Zions Bank, and now Salt Lake County.  In particular, Scott Anderson, who recognized the value of community participation by me and other employees and expressed support as we gave our time in those efforts.  And to Mayor Ben McAdams, who was under some kind of influence of some substance, when he appointed me as Salt Lake County’s first Director of the Office of Regional Development.  His willingness to let me finish my commitment as both President of the Utah League of Cities & Towns and my final months of service on this council, has allowed me to keep my commitment to the residents of my district. 
            When I first took office, I like many new elected officials, talked of making a difference, not only in how our community develops, but how we interacted and prepared the future for those who would follow.  Decisions that represented the courage of making good decisions that would serve generations to come.  I hope that’s the case, and certainly hope it reflects my efforts.  I’ve participated in one form or the other, in every new transit line coming into our community, the development of the Gateway area, decisions that led to the rebuilding of City Creek Center, a beautiful plaza at the head of Main Street, the rebuilding and revitalization of North Temple, a new Fleet Facility that maybe only Rick Graham will appreciate, new Main and branch libraries, a new public safety facility, finally rebuilding our airport and the construction of a regional sports complex and somewhere in there we carried out an Olympics in 2002.  In a more personal realm we found common ground in how we treated our employees in regards to benefits, how we protected individual in both employment and housing fairness and maybe more importantly, how we have dialogue while understanding our differences and respecting each other’s viewpoints. 

            Finally, my thanks to the residents of Salt Lake City District 1, who took a chance on me in 1997 and allowed me the opportunity to serve.  You have been fair and supportive over the years and will be served well by James Rogers as he takes over the privilege of representing you in January.  You are my friends, my neighbors and with me share the desire for a strong community.  I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to continue to serve many of you in my faith as Stake President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake as well as in my new role with Salt Lake County.  We bring different perspectives in solving common problems and I am grateful that you have afforded me the opportunity of being a footnote in the history of Salt Lake City.  Some chapters are written in part in the landscape of our community, but most are written in the hearts of those to whom we serve.  From the bottom of my heart, please accept my thanks as I close this chapter of our story together. Thank you very much for your honor and recognition received today as I wish you best in the chapters that will be to follow.  Thank you.

Tribute Video shown at the beginning of our City Council Meeting

Video version of my remarks

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for a wonderful year of blessings

Cathy and I on our recent trip to Range Creek with the
Natural History Museum of Utah
On this Thanksgiving Day, I would be remiss to not express my thanks for a wonderful year of blessings.  While the year hasn't been without trials, we made it through it and have had some wonderful blessings that have come our way.  If I could have envisioned how 2013 would go in January, I would have left out a number of chapters!  It has been a whirlwind of a year.

First undoubtedly would be my call as Stake President of the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake.  While I've always enjoyed my voluntary service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this has been an amazing experience for me.  After nearly a month since being called and sustained, I have such deep gratitude to the great examples who preceded me in this calling and to the faithful members of the our church who support me and most importantly express their love to our Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ.   This is a long term deal and as I've entered a few things on my calendar and made them recurring entries, calculating the potential number of times it should reoccur, has been daunting.  However, we take it one day at a time, and find great joy with this new opportunity in our lives.

I'm grateful for a new job, that provides both opportunities and challenge.  As Salt Lake County's new Director of the Office of Regional Development, I have the opportunity of working with some great people, new challenges every day and hopefully an opportunity of using my talents developed over the last 16 years to make a difference in the lives of the most populated county in the State.  I am thankful for a County Mayor, Ben McAdams who has expressed trust in me and afforded the opportunity of serving the public, in a different way.  My thanks to my former employer, Zions Bank, who not only supported me in my public service over the last 8 1/2 years, but left on such a good note, that they let me take my super-duper heavy duty chair with me to my new job.  They are unmatched.

My thanks for eyesight.  Faced with diminishing vision, I had cataract surgery in both eyes during the month of June.  Through the miracle of Toric Lens implants, I not only solved my diminishing vision issues but now can see distant views in clarity that I haven't seen in 20 years.  The artificial lenses have a certain glare to them, but Cathy and the girls are always starring at them to see the reflections it creates.  Ok, they're the only ones who get to stare into my eyes.

I'm grateful for a myriad of opportunities to serve.  This year, not only do I complete my 16th year on the city council, but I finished my term as President of the Utah League of Cities & Towns, President of the Advisory Board for the Museum of Natural History of Utah, and rotated off my other regional boards and commissions associated with my public service.  Each have expanded my horizon and given me the opportunity to learn.  I look forward next year to joining the Advisory Board for the Jordan Valley Conservation Garden.

Finally, last but not least, my thanks to my family.  They have stood by me, carried me at times, and loved me without reservation.  Cathy in particular has carried some heavy burdens and I'm grateful for her numerous sacrifices to have our family be successful.  Both Jessica and Sarah always remind me what a wonderful blessing it is to be a father and I love them all.

And thanks to you, who took the time to read this and for being my friend.  You make a difference in my life.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Stake President - My new calling in the LDS Church

Carlton, Cathy, Sarah & Jessica

A calling in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) is not something you apply for, or for that matter pursue with any kind of personal preference, but is extended after much prayer and thought by those extending the call from Priesthood Leadership.  Such is the case today, as I was sustained by the Members of the Rose Park Stake as Stake President after being extended a call from Elder Bruce D. Porter of the First Quorum of Seventy and Elder Warren G. Tate, an Area Seventy.  It's our belief that callings are extended based upon that which Jesus Christ would have, and are a reflection of the needs that our Savior feels is needed for that congregation at that given time.  While worthiness is a requirement, the extension of the call isn't a comparison of who is more worthy, because many men would have been worthy of the same call.  For me, upon extension of the call, I felt a spirit of confirmation that it was in fact a call that our Savior would have extended and I am humbled by the opportunity.  

For my friends, unfamiliar with my faith, a Stake is a geographical area made up of Wards or multiple congregations.  In the case of the Rose Park Stake, we have eight wards, including a Spanish speaking ward and in total, over 3,000 members.  It is a very challenging responsibility of which I'm not paid.  I don't do it all by myself, in fact I asked two counselors to serve with me, upon prayer and confirmation of the spirit that would assist with many aspects of the calling.  For my First Counselor, I asked Paul Fullmer to serve and for my Second Counselor, Brent Hyde.  Both are very capable men, who come with years of experience in serving in the Church and like me, have a love for the Lord and His work.  They like me are lay clergy or individuals not paid for their service and in fact everyone who serves under us within our Wards or Stake Callings are not paid for their service.

It's been a very full weekend for my family and me.  To be honest, we're emotionally and physically exhausted.  If I thought I had to do it, simply based upon the merits of my own ability, it would be impossible.   With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I can do it.  It's a clear shift from my service on the Salt Lake City Council.  I've appreciated the sixteen years of service there and will complete my term which ends in January.  I likewise will have my other or "real" job with Salt Lake County as the Director of the Office of Regional Development.  It's work that I'm really enjoying, working with some great people and it too is a new and frankly difficult challenge for me.  I am blessed with a great wife, two dedicated daughters and a family that helps me whenever they can.  I too have been blessed by my service in the Church and it is very much a part of my life.  It is after all, a reflection of what in my life is most important, and helping people be their best, assisting them through their challenges and being a genuine friend is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.  I'm hoping I can sleep a little better tonight!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nose Hair Trimmers - Opening a whole new understanding of life

Well, I was afraid October would come and pass and yet no blog entry from me.  You would think with a new job, maybe finishing up my time on the City Council, recent LDS General Conference just something might trigger a thought.  However I have to say using my new Panasonic ER430 Nose & Facial Hair Trimmer this morning, really got me thinking!  It all got started back a few mornings ago. It was about 5 a.m. in the morning, I was there pondering life and decided to pull out my iPad.  I don't really have any friends that like me, so looking at Facebook didn't make sense, the news was depressing because the Federal Government was shut down even though I'm required to adopt a balanced budget by June 22 each year for Salt Lake City, so I decided to go do some browsing through my Amazon App.  I remembered the other day that I dropped my old, and frankly pretty ineffective nose hair trimmer and since I do have Amazon Prime, figured it would save me a trip to Wal-Mart or something like it.  

I love the reviews on Amazon and can't figure out why 10 people have success with a product and there's got to be one person who can't really figure out life or their equipment.  I mean, how do you screw up using a nose hair trimmer?  What kind of person is that dysfunctional?  What would it be like to be married to that person or have them as your child?  Yes, Heavenly Father does love them, but it has to give him some pause as well.  Well I found this real beauty for something just over $12.  It qualified for Prime.  I actually ordered a new razor while I was at it, because my current one is getting old.  That cost me about $50, but I did get the nose hair trimmer for only $12!

This morning, a AA battery and I was on my way.  This new Nose Hair Trimmer has a vacuum component to it.  It's suppose to pick up the hairs that have been cut.  I have to say, that it made me wonder why when someones hair quits growing on their head, does it still grow out their nose or their ear?   Why is that you can seem groomed one day, and the next morning it's 1/2" below your nose opening?  Are any of the women in my house, secretly using my trimmer and unwilling to admit it?  These were pretty deep questions for me.  

I will have to say, when I finished, I did the ultimate test. I blew my nose into at tissue, and no tiny hairs.  Wow, a new world and a new experience for me.
The new Trimmer - Amazing action on one battery!
And you wonder why I only have 14 followers on my blog and a few of those are anonymous!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Daring someone is not always a good idea - Maybe living up to it is!

Thanks to Dani Haskett for volunteering to cut my hair and to those who donated
to Primary Children's Medical Center
You know how you make a dare to someone, and then think afterwards, that maybe that wasn't the brightest thing you ever suggested?  Well I have one and it includes myself! A few years ago, in a meeting, I made the comment to a colleague from Sandy, Steve Fairbanks, that if he wore a dress to the Utah League of Cities & Towns general assembly, I would cut off my hair.  Well he did and somehow, he remembered that challenge.  I had hoped his old age, would have left him without memory or somehow he would have found compassion in his soul, but alas, nothing of the sorts.

With the knowledge that I would be leaving office and I had left an undone commitment, I decided to try and make lemonade out of a lemon.  Since I was President of the Utah League of Cities & Towns, I decided take advantage of our annual conference, the 2 year anniversary of the bet, and use my efforts to raise money for Primary Children's Medical Center.  Local officials from around the State made donations and the lady who cuts my hair, Dani Haskett agreed to come cut it for me.  Our theme was Healthy Communities, and every community in the State is served by Primary Children's Hospital.  Now while the length was debated and I did contemplate either a bald cut, or a shorter buzz, the dare never really clarified the length.... Also in my defense, Steve wore a pair of pants under the dress and when I challenged him on it, he correctly pointed out that I had not clarified any conditions of what would be required with the dress.  I think it was a fair exchange.  My hair is shorter than I've ever had it, I did it in public and kept my integrity in check.  Just going to think twice before I dare someone again!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Salt Lake City's Opinion Question - Vote No Please!

If you live in Salt Lake City, and are registered to vote, you received an opinion question, that has the likeness of voting by mail.  I've noticed many comments on Facebook, and others who have stopped to ask me questions and the response is the same puzzled look, why?  Inclination is to simply throw it away, but if you think it's a waste of your time and tax dollars, still vote no and either send it in, or deliver it to the City Recorder's office.  If you need a stamp, I'll personally deliver one to you.  The only thing more frustrating about this process is for it to have a majority affirmative vote.

The only thing consoling to me is that as I've explained the history of this question and process to many, including my 13 year old daughter, they have asked a fundamental and thoughtful question of why?  For the record, I didn't vote for it, didn't encourage it and DO think of it as a waste of money.

Having said that, the group, Move to Amend, did go through the process of placing a question through the initiative process on our ballot as outlined by State law.  While they did meet most of the qualifications of an initiative ballot question, they discovered after the fact an important omission. They missed a fundamental part of initiative law, asking for an actionable ordinance or resolution that the city council could actually take.  The courts concurred, yes they did take us to court but my colleagues were still sympathetic to their cause.  Some wanted to hold a separate election, but that would have cost us $450,000, which would not have been good, and illegal.  Some wanted to do vote by mail, near the election, but the county clerk indicated it would be too confusing to voters, which is true.

Many recognized, including me that time to time, either the council or a group of individuals may have questions that they would want to be asked, so we did develop a process, which had a high threshold and while not likely to be used often, is legitimate and could have value one day.  This group did meet that requirement, which is why you received the question in the mail as a voter.  The question, which seems harmless, is fraught with many potential and legitimate challenges if ever acted upon by the Federal Government.  However, that would be the proper forum for the discussion, not the forum of Salt Lake City and the City Council.  I voted no on placing it on the question, you should vote no to indicate that it's not the forum you would have chosen as well.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Anniversary Robert & Verda Mae - September 1, 1949

Robert & Verda Mae during honeymoon to Sun Valley, ID
Yesterday was the 64th Wedding Anniversary of my parents, Robert & Verda Mae Christensen.  While they have both passed away, my faith teaches me that their marriage is for eternity and so for me, I feel it continues on, beyond their deaths.  The life they began together and the children born of them, continues and hopefully our commitment does as well.  My parents were lined up by my father's sister, Ora Nell Christensen Folkman, who was a friend of my mother.  After a few years teaching school, Mom became a writer & producer for KSL Radio, where she had her own show.  She also wrote for KSL, their first TV commercial.  She was 27, had lived through World War II as a young lady, and was ready to raise her family.  My father, had recently returned from an LDS mission to Denmark, where he served just after World Ward II.  Due to his size and flat feet, he was unable to serve during the war, but became one of the few who had gone through and had completed most of his schooling.  My father, who had not dated, or at least more than once, fell in love with my Mom, and were engaged a few months later, and then married about four months after that, on September 1, 1949.
My parents just before their Marriage
My parents cutting their
Wedding Cake
Dad was nearly done with his schooling, and took a job as the manager of the Coke Cola Plant in Vernal Utah.  Mom, as traditionally done, quit her job at KSL and they were off to start their family.  Dad's plans were to finish his schooling by correspondence, but it would take a few years later before it actually occurred.  Life in Vernal had it's challenges, and the demands on my Dad were a lot, and his health took its toll. It would be one of a few times, during their marriage, that his health would be in question and my mother, who lost her own father at age six, wondered if she would be a widow herself.
Dad & Mom in front of their first
Rose Park home on 900 N after
he completed his schooling ( about four kids later)
After a brief period with my father's parents in Richfield, my parents moved to Rose Park, where my Dad had secured a job working for ZCMI Department Store.  While the eldest son Elliott had been born during their Vernal years (although Mom came to SLC for the birth), the rest of the children were born while residing in Rose Park.  In this home, Clayton, Milton and Maribeth were born.
Family photo without Carlton
As the family grew and the evaluated locations to expand, Rose Park came back as the place to stay.  My parents found a two year old home at 810 N 1500 W, belonging to someone from our church who had built it, but decided to move.  Spencer, Bradley, Nancy and Carlton were born while they lived here.  It became known as the family home, and my wife Cathy and I own it and still live in the home today.  My older brother Milton became ill at age 11 and died from blood disorder, that was a form of leukemia.  Milton only lived a few months after being diagnosed and my mother found herself expecting her youngest, Carlton Jay Christensen (that's me) to be born about six months later. Subsequently we have no photo with the whole family.
Carlton at age 1
Life in our family was a typical family experience and my parents were blessed to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, the marriage of Elliott & Jennifer, their eldest son and the birth of their eldest grandchild, Evan.  
Mom & Dad in front of their home at 810 N 1500 W
A few years later, on the last day of our summer vacation, my father became ill.  He was diagnosed about a month later  (August of 1975), with Hodgkins Disease, a cancer of the lymph system and died in January of 1976.  
Dad dictated to Clayton his autobiography in
his final few months of his life
My parents had always been active in the community and in our faith, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving both in numerous capacities, and Dad had just been released as the Stake President of the Rose Park Stake, due to his illness in November of 1975.  It was a pretty hard time for me, I was only 10, and I struggled with his loss for many years.
Add caption
While no family photo was every complete and my mother who became widowed at 53, would live nearly another 30 years, their marriage proved to be a living example of good people who love their savior and demonstrated an endless commitment to each other.  While our family is far from perfect, and we have all had our struggles, we were blessed with good parents who we knew loved us and did their best under the circumstances.  While yesterday came with little fanfare and celebration, I am thankful in my heart for their commitment to each other and in particular having that one more kid!  Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!
Family Photo taken in celebration of my parents
40th Anniversary

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Transitions in life create new opportunities

This last week has definitely been a week of transitions for both me personally as well as my family.  Jessica headed back to Utah State as she continues her effort to teach elementary school, Sarah started High School at Innovations High and I started a new job with Salt Lake County.   Cathy as usual is the stabilizing force!  After 8 1/2 years with Zions Bank, I took a position in the Cabinet of Mayor Ben McAdams for a newly created position as the Director of the Office of Regional Development for Salt Lake County.  You may have remembered the blog about Ben that I wrote in the 2012 election cycle and while we don't share political parties, we do share a hope and desire for good government and bi-partisan effort to make Salt Lake County a regional leader in the State of Utah.  Looking for better ways to use precious resources more wisely as well as lead out on discussions that help shape a county destined to double in size in the next 20 to 30 years, with limited land space to do it.  We both recognize that if we wait for that future to come without planning for it, we will get a future we don't really want.  Being smarter, more innovative and resourceful in working with other regional partners will be crucial in moving forward.  Mayor McAdams campaigned on it, and I'm grateful he has given me an opportunity to work with many others to see it gets done.

It was with great thought and appreciation that I parted with Zions Bank.  They've been extremely supportive of my public service and I have the utmost respect for them as an organization and the people who I had the honor of associating with during those years.  They have and will continue to play a vital community partner in many ways for years to come.  I am especially grateful to Scott Anderson, Zions President and CEO who has been such a community leader in so many ways.  It's not by chance that he and Harris Simmons were recently chosen by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce as Giants in the City.

After week 1, I've learned much, still pretty much lost in the halls of the Government Center of Salt Lake County, but as I work to get my hands around things, I look forward to taking 16 years of public service and continue to use it for all the residents of Salt Lake County. Supporting Mayor McAdams in his initiatives and with the County Council and their policies will be a new role for me, but one which I feel very comfortable.   It will be a busy four months as I finish my term on the Salt Lake City Council and will miss my daily associations with many at City Hall, but will be glad to work with many in a new role with not only Salt Lake City, but the other fine cities and unincorporated areas of Salt Lake County.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Flying Flags For a Long Time!

U.S. Flags flying along Jordan River Parkway prior to Youth Parade
Flags provided by Verda Mae Christensen!
I've been flying flags for a long time.  Of all the things you don't anticipate having a long involvement in, but can't imagine doing anything different, for me, it is flying flags.  I've always loved the flag and frequently hung the flag at our family home on holidays.  However in the mid 90's when I was serving as Bishop of the Rose Park Ninth Ward, is really where it got started for me.  After a successful effort by our ward one year, along with others in the Stake that had done a similar breakfast for the 4th of July, the Stake decided to have a 4th of July Breakfast the next year for the whole community.  As part of the planning for it, President Keith Stepan suggested a children's Parade from the Library (following a flag ceremony) to the Lions Bowery which was our location for that first year.  President Stepan thought it important to line the parade route with flags and had suggested to the Bishops that we line the route and venue with flags scheduled to be placed up in front of homes and then later after the event, go place them up in front of homes again.  None of the Bishops, including myself, were big on having to do that twice.

I went home and a few days later got, talking to my mother, Verda Mae Christensen about the dilemma and while I should have known, she came home later that day and presented me with about 35 flags she had found at NPS Market Square.  She loved that place and was always looking for a bargain.  I attached them to PVC poles and low and behold we had our first set, which provided us a source to get from the Library to the Lions Bowery.  Also that first year, a tradition that would last for decades, Peter Lassig started assisting me in putting up the flags that morning, something that would continue for many years to follow.
The next year, it was apparent we had to move to the Large Bowery at Riverside Park to accommodate the large crowds that were coming.  Once again, I went home and was talking to my Mom, and lamented that I needed nearly double the flags because our distance to the Bowery had doubled.  A day or so later, she called me up and had me come over to her house, and there they were, about 35 more flags or about 70 in total.  I mounted those on PVC poles, and once again Peter Lassig met me at 6:15 in the morning and he and I put them up along the route.  This was an assignment that continued on for me for about another 12 years, even though no one formally asked me to do it.  It was ok, I had a lot of joy and pride to see those flags flying each year, and Peter was a faithful comrade in helping me get it done.

Then in 2008, Peter and I both happened to be gone over the 4th of July Holiday for family outings.  I had tried to ask the ward in charge of the kids parade if they wanted access to the flags, but couldn't get a response.  I had wondered if maybe I had made the wrong assumption all those years that people wanted or needed them, but just before leaving, I showed my neighbor and Bishop, Paul Fullmer how to get into my garage and where I stored them in case someone needed them and then went on a my trip.  A day or so before the 4th, I had a message on my phone from a member of the Stake Presidency asking where they could find my flags.  I instructed them that Paul knew the location and where I hid the key and that they were welcome to use them.  Every year after, that assignment to place those flags has come and in the last few years, an assignment to help me has also been given. The only minor sadness for me, is that Peter's health has been such, that for the last couple of years, he hasn't been able to help.  He was my true friend in it all.

On September 11, 2002, a year after the terrorist attacks on the United States, I wanted to do something to pay respect and remember that day.
Backman Elementary, September 11, 2002
 It had been a hard experience for all of us, including myself.  I was traveling when the attack happened and had been scheduled to come home that day.  It took me four days later to finally get a flight, but at least I was coming home.  I still tear up thinking about it, and am grateful for the many who have fought, some of whom have given their all, to keep us free and safe.  I remember family friends who lost their lives that day and the innocence of life, that never returned, leaving my children a different experience than what I knew to expect.  My flags were even used the Sunday following September 11, 2001 when the Rose Park Stake Center was lined with flags and more were needed to remember that tragic event.

Flags were placed along 600 N during
the Olympics - sponsored by residents

My friend Ray Morgan came the morning of the February 8, 2002 to
watch the Torch Run along 600 North
In 2002, an idea that I got from another community, decided to encourage the elementary school where my daughter attended, Backman Elementary, to do a flag project.  Residents donated $10 and sponsored a flag, that we mounted to PVC poles and placed along the fence line each morning preceding the games, and through the closing ceremony.   For fear of losing them, we put them up early in the morning, and then took them down at night.  A number of neighbors helped us, but especially Paul and Heidi Fullmer.  It was great to have one of the local TV stations recognize that effort on that morning during one of the live shots and those flags still fly in the entry way of the school today.    The video clip below tells that story a little.  I will have to say, I didn't have much white hair and different glass frames!
For my neighbors who live near by, my home is included in the flag arena, we have a Flag that flies 24 hours a day on a lighted pole and I've been known to fly flags in my yards for subsequent holidays, like Pioneer Day (with flags that represent our heritage or where we served LDS missions) or I still love the Olymnpics, so I usually do something during games that have followed ours.  Needless to say, I love flags, and they represent some of the more emotional parts of my life and are grateful for those memories.  I've been flying flags for a long time!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Invitation to learn more..

Family photo following April General Conference
I've written about a wide variety of things on my blog, everything from community to politics, my wallet to Father's Day.  However I've never written directly and invited my readers if they wanted to know more about my belief as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or maybe more importantly how they might know more about getting closer to God and why my faith plays such a significant role in not only my own life but that of my family.  I've been a little envious of my brother's courage, his website www.claytonchristensen.com (which receives a lot more visits than mine), openly talks about his own belief and readers frequently do inquire of him. I worried for years that in my public service realm, that maybe for some reason, it wasn't appropriate  for me to do so in a public way.  However the reality is that this is my blog, and why is it that I wouldn't want to share something which makes me so happy and gives me the opportunity to help others, with those whom I care or even better yet, those whom I haven't even met yet, is beside me!

I do have a public profile on www.mormon.org but I'm sure it gets lost in the many who participate.  I've found in my life of trying to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, such joy and satisfaction in not only trying to serve others, like the Savior would, but true happiness in enjoying the love and joy of my family.  Having answers to some of life's most difficult questions and knowing that God loves me personally has helped me through some very challenging times.  I don't think it takes anyone very long, who knows me to acknowledge that I'm not perfect, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't afford friends and others from having the same opportunity to know more.

If you have questions you would like to ask, or simply are interested in knowing a little more about the Mormon Church or it's more formal name - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, feel free to drop me a note or catch me on the street some time (or come on over to the house).  While I have a number of ways to contact me out there, feel free to drop me an email at carlton.christensen@facebook.com. Cathy, Jessica, Sarah and myself would love to chat and if you later decide you're not interested, we hope you'll stay our friends and please know, we will not be offended.  We invite you to know more!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Best Father's Day Gift Ever!

Two years ago, I started my blog and 7,000 views later, it still gets a few hits.  Interestingly enough, that first entry was on Father's Day 2011, when I wrote the piece on Father's Day - I probably haven't done a lot right, but my girls are the exception.  Today those exceptional girls and Cathy gave me the best present ever, the first four volumes of scrapbooks about my life.
The meaning of the scrapbooks go back a ways, but for me, represent an important part of what I was hoping to leave for my girls.  In high school and during my LDS mission to Japan in 1985-86, I kept a pretty thorough journal of my day to day activities, but when I returned it became less and less until a year or so into my marriage, entries became more like annual paragraphs.  Activities in my life became more comlex. At age 23, I was called as Elders Quorum President of my LDS Ward, I was married a year a year or so later and at age 25, was called as a counselor in our Ward Bishopric.  Then at age 27, I was called as Bishop of the Rose Park Ninth Ward where I served for just over four years, at which point I was elected to the Salt Lake City Council and shortly released as Bishop a few months later.  Here I am nearly 16 years later, and much has passed in my life, but little of it was documented.

As Cathy and I talked about what gift I wanted, I dreaded the fact that maybe the Salt Lake Tribune (or even the Deseret News) would be the only chronicled history of my life and that if I died or passed away, my girls would know very little about me.  To a lesser extent, my blog entries, have been a public documentation of some experiences but even it doesn't always reflect a lot of life's events, and certainly not some of the stuff that matters most.  It would be difficult to go back and document in any detail the kind of narrative a journal would have provided me, but these volumes do provide a start.  Sarah mentioned to me that she's learned so much more about me, since she started the project and Jessica has actually been going back and transferring my mission journal to a digital format and reminds me of stories that I would have long since forgotten.

Mine hasn't certainly been a perfect life and some things I wish hadn't been documented so well, but there is value in them.  I can certainly do better and look forward to making a better attempt at keeping a written journal.  I remember the day my father died, his autobiography that my brother Clayton assisted him in writing had come back from the printer that day.  Matching almost entirely his life and a valuable asset for his descendants in knowing the history of his life.   I cherish his final testimony and his counsel to us as children on what's important in our own lives.  Lessons I look back to almost daily.

Thanks to Cathy, Jessica and Sarah for not letting me be forgotten.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cathy - Happy Mother's Day!

Family Photo after April General Conference 2013
Cathy, you know better than anyone, that I'm pretty mediocre when it comes to cards, but for some reason I like to write about it and tell the whole world.  So this year, rather than send you a card that someone else wrote that says, "I wish I could tell the whole world what a great Mother you are..." I thought I would!  I don't think I ever imagined in walking down this path together, that while it would definitely have bumps, we've also enjoyed some beautiful vistas together.  Probably the two greatest joys for both of us have been Jessica and Sarah and I see you coming out in them more every day (mostly in a good way)!  I just thought it appropriate to share a few pictures and comments of that journey together.
Cathy & Jessica mowing the lawn together - always working side by side with the girls
I have always loved how you work side by side with our girls, sometime with a little persuasion and sometimes more willingly.  I think as they grown older, they appreciate that it makes the difference and the skills that some think are rare, have become commonplace for them.  As Jessica moves away from home, it's been fun to see how much of the patterns of life you've taught her show itself in so many ways.

While our children did not come as expected, the joy that came from having Sarah also join our family was such a welcome news after eight years of waiting, that words can not express was joy that brought to my heart.  It was almost like starting over again, as we got use to the changes, but can't think of what life would be with out her or Jessica.
Cathy holding Sarah on her blessing day

I know one of the joys of our girls is how well they work together on things.  Jessica has been a great example for Sarah and her willingness to be patient in that relationship has truly been a benefit to both!  She continues to be such a great example to both girls and each brings a special joy to our hearts.

Jessica pushing Sarah in the Children's Parade
I think one of the things I most admire in you, is your love for your own mother. I see so many qualities of her come out in you each day and it's been fun to see those pass down to our own girls.  I know you're grateful for the trial and challenges faced by those women in your own family and fun to see those traits emerge in our own girls.
Cathy, Jessica with her mother Lois Nielsen & Grandma Greaves (four generations)
I would also be remiss if I didn't express my thank for the love you showed to my own mother.  You allowed me to live next to her for those first fourteen years of our married life, doing much for her and appreciating what she added to our family.  You allowed her to join us and be part of many activities, for which I will be forever grateful.
Final leg of the Torch run that began at Backman Elementary
Carlton, Verda Mae Christensen, Cathy holding Sarah and Jessica holding the torch
I thought about including the pictures that we took shortly after our girls birth, but sixteen years of politics has taught me that sometimes that best things said, is the stuff that never leaves your lips or in this case, never posted publicly!  Thanks for this journey together and for being such a wonderful mother and example to our children.  Happy Mother's Day, love Carlton.

On Top of it All!  From the roof line of the Salt Lake City & County Building
Sarah, Jessica, Cathy & Carlton

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Two more days to Register - 6 Weeks to a Healthier You!

In Six weeks to a Healthier is under way.  However while there are actually about five weeks now,  it's not too late to register. A Healthier You, a joint project with Salt Lake County Northwest Recreation Center teamed up with me, to give people a chance to start to make a change.  Now through the end of April (two more days), you can register for an easy but effective program in looking at different ways you can be healthier.  Many of you have actually registered and are participating, but if you're sitting on the fence, get over it and get it done.  Each participants will receive a T-Shirt and be eligible in completing half the items to be submitted for a drawing for some fun prizes, including an iPod.  Each participant will also receive two free passes to the Northwest Recreation Center as well.  You just need to be over 10 years of age, and be willing to start somewhere!

So far, I've walked a 5K, participated in walking with yours truly and are looking forward to a handful of free activities that are available for participants in the program.  I've been impressed thus far to see a mixture of everyone to the very fittest to some just wanting to start somewhere.  On the walk we did a few weeks ago, participants received a chance to get to know others, some gave up speed to help others along and overall we were reminded of what a great neighborhood we live in.  The upcoming 5K associated with the Rose Park Festival also counts, so register for it, and get one more item checked off the list.

My thanks to Kay Cameron and her staff at the Northwest Recreation Center for making this happen and putting some great resources into this offering.  If you haven't been there lately, go check it out.  My thanks as well to council staff who have helped coordinate things and to Intermountain Medical Center and the My Heart Challenge which got me started a year ago myself, and which competition and $1,000 prize for most improved, gave me the opportunity to do this for the residents and employees of the West Side.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

On the back of Van Turner's Fire Truck with Sarah and Jessica
For over 16 years, St. Patrick's Day has involved green (as in the color), my girls including Cathy, and pretty much one of Van Turner's fire trucks in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Salt Lake City.  You can't attend the parade and not plan to have some fun, and this year was no exception.  Great crowd, beautiful weather and the association of many friends and family.  Not much Irish blood in my veins, but it does run in my children courtesy of one of Cathy's distant ancestors who married a Scot.  That in itself explains that fierce competitiveness in Cathy but it also gives me a reason to have an Irish Flag, which flies in our front yard along with a house adorned in green lights.  I don't drink so I need some way to celebrate the Holiday!
One of the early St. Patrick's Day parades for the family
From our early days on the council, we have been in nearly every parade.  In 16 years, I may have missed a couple, but I've always tried to make it work.  It's one of the few parades that have allowed children and I've always appreciated that they have allowed me to do it with my family.  As I went back and accumulated my pictures, it's been nostalgic to watch my kids grow up as well.
One year shortly before her death, we were able to take my mother
in the parade.
My mother was always a lover of parades.  One year they told us we needed to find our own rides.  I had a green explorer, a green trailer, so we put down some green carpeting and used some straps to secure a recliner chair for my aging mother.  She had the time of her life, wearing her green dress, adorned with her crazy green jewelry and Jessica walked with Daisy our dog behind. I followed up the rear.  Nearly every parade involved cousins and sometimes friends.
2003, was one of the first years through the Gateway, and we pulled Sarah in a wagon
Van Turner's Fire Truck is always a mainstay for the council.  Sarah
and Jessica with cousins Abby & Lexi
Even though Van Turner lost his re-election, he's been kind enough the last few years to offer his fire truck for the City Council to ride upon.  He does all the work, gets it in place, checks in for us and we just show up.  Anyone who knows Van, knows he's the kindest guy in the world, but the guy loves Parades, loves his fire trucks and enjoys sharing it with the community.
Cathy, Jessica, and Sarah in the rear join me for this year's parade, one last time!
I suppose it's never really good-bye
So I may be on the sidelines next year, but my house will still be lit in green, the Irish flag in the front yard, and I'll be one of the zany spectators having fun with the passersby.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

April 13 - A great day for our community

Trax car running on newly finished North Temple
No, this isn't Friday the 13th, which wouldn't have a good track record as far as luck goes, but Saturday, April 13th!  Put it down in your calendar, tell your friends and above all, come on over and try out the new Trax line to the Airport going down North Temple.  UTA has announced that it will be free to the public that day, with revenue operation starting the next day on Sunday, April 14th.  You're encouraged to bring a can of food for the Utah Food Bank and there will be activities along the corridor.  The Green Line will start in West Valley City, come through downtown and then proceed along 400 West and across the new North Temple viaduct.  There is a transfer point on the viaduct down to Front Runner and then out to the Airport.  You'll not want to miss it!

Another exciting thing that will also happen on Saturday, April 13th with be the Northwest Community Health Fair.  In conjunction with the Northwest Recreation and Community Center, a health fair with good information on how to improve yourself will be held on site of the Rec Center at 1300 W and 300 N.  Many of you may remember when I won the most improved in the My Heart Challenge and in so doing, won $1,000 to be used in my own community to help improve health.  In working with Kay Cameron at the Rec Center, we decided to partner up other health care providers to provide basic information on health related issues and allow blood pressure checks, BMI screenings and other tools to help you see where you are and more importantly help you set a course to improving your health.  The Health Fair will go from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day, park, come participate and then walk the Jordan River Parkway trail over and take a ride on Trax!

Also on April 13, there will be a 5K race associated with the Health Fair that starts at 9 a.m.  For a modest registration fee, you can run (or walk with me) and start your "spring training" off right.  In addition to the 5 K, you can register at the Rec Center during the month of April for a new program, "Six Weeks to a Healthier You".  To register, you must be 10 years or older and each participant will receive 2 - day passes to the Northwest Recreation Center.  In addition, there will be a dozen free activities over a six week period that if you participate in at least half, will be eligible for a prize drawing at the Northwest Riverfest in June.  Each participant will be eligible for a T-Shirt and more importantly, will help you get started in becoming a healthier you!

You might ask, why such an emphasis on being healthy?  The answer is obvious, we all need it.  However as equally important, it helps you become more involved in our community and see what resources are available, many for free.  It's always fun to do it with others and in so doing, encourage each other in working to do better. So set aside as much of April 13th as you can and let's have some fun!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The first of many last experiences

Friday, I visited the city recorders office to complete a task I started nearly 16 years ago, I closed out my election committee for the city council.  I remember opening that committee before filing in 1997 and listing myself as the secretary, and my mother Verda Mae Christensen as Honorary Chair and my brother Elliott Christensen as another Honorary Chair.  I did most of that work!  However both have been tremendous help through the years and along with other family members have made this a very rewarding experience.
Jessica helping me plant landscaping at the
construction of the Day-Riverside Library 1995
One aspect of elections is they mark your life in four year segments and when you have to get ready for a campaign, you end up taking family photos, and your life does get documented a little.  Some elections were more challenging than others, but each time I was grateful for having the residents of Salt Lake City's' District 1, be willing to give me another chance. 
Campaign Photo for 2001 Election
2001 was probably my most favorite election.  I remember calling after the filing deadline at 5 p.m. and having the City Election Clerk inform me that no one had filed to run against me.  While I'm very appreciative of the election process that was a sweet experience!  I was at work and let out a huge yell and my co-workers came into my office to find out what was wrong.  I said, "I think I just won my first re-election!"  I didn't do much campaigning and it wasn't until about three weeks out that I got paranoid that I would lose to a write-in candidate so I started distributing flyers and putting up some old signs.  I literally was the only thing on that ballot and over 1,000 people showed up for that election and only 40 didn't vote for me.  A friend who lost his-reelection that year said it reminded him of a communist election, where you can vote but only have one choice!  Ironically, I had nearly 17% turnout, which isn't that much lower than a typical year. 
Campaign Photo for 2005
My third election was a challenging one with a number of candidates.  My mother, who had always been there for me, passed away the prior year.  We had moved into my family home following her death and a lot of changes had taken place in our lives.  We did win that final election with 66% of the vote

Photo for 2009 Campaign.  Originally taken in 2008 for a failed
State Senate Race
In 2009, I was recovering from a failed bid for a State Senate race that hadn't gone great, with living in a Democratic district, where President Obama won that year in Salt Lake County.  I knew there were some things I still wanted to accomplish on the council, but wondering if my time had come.  After a couple of months, I decided to "get back on the horse" and with the help of some good friends, including the endorsement of Mayor Becker and my State Senate opponent, Luz Robles, I won that race, again with 66% of the vote. 

My oldest daughter Jessica is now a Junior at Utah State, Sarah is 6'3" and will be in 9th Grade next year, and Cathy and I will celebrate our 23rd year of marriage later this year.  Our 16 year commitment to Public Service has brought about some great experiences and I wouldn't trade them for anything.  It's been tough, discouraging at times, but we've worked our way through a variety of challenges.  Our family, in particular Sarah, has never known anything else, and somewhere, I hope that I might find an opportunity for public service.  However if this January brings nothing else, I will look back with great fondness for the wonderful opportunity afforded us as a family.  While I signed the form Friday to close my election committee, it was truly a moment looking back with great reflection.  I imagine it is the first of many "last experiences" this year.
Cathy has been by my side since Day 1, and a partner
in everything I've done!
Mayor Becker recognized the service of my
colleague, Jill Love and me in this year's
State of the City Address

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Year Greetings from the Christensen Family

Every year our family has a Japanese tradition of sending off New Year cards.  Actually, it is our late answer to Christmas cards, but I prefer the cultural twist from my LDS mission to Japan.  In the past, I’ve emailed it to friends and family, but always hate to miss someone who might be interested.  I thought this year, I would post it in my blog and those of you who faithfully follow it, might enjoy it.  Happy New Year!

Christensen Family 2012 Newsletter

            2012 was a great year filled with many transitions for our family.  Sending our eldest away to school, loss of our long time family dog, shift to full time employment and figuring out what’s the next phase of our lives.  We also realized in going through pictures of last year, how blessed we were with numerous experiences and opportunities and how fortunate we’ve been as a family.  We anticipate 2013 being a great opportunity for us all.
            Daisy, our nine year old black lab passed away last year.  Ironically, she had lost a lot of weight (after being put on a mandatory diet by the vet) and started getting energy back she had not had for a while, Then suddenly Daisy got sick, and died fairly quickly from a form of liver cancer.  Our hearts have been lonely for her many times this last year but we also have many fine memories of her as part of our family.  Sarah really comforted her in those last days and it was tough on us all.  We buried her in our yard with her ball and one of Carlton’s gloves. Daisy was always stealing one of his work gloves and we would find it buried in many places throughout the yard. We planted daisies over her grave. 
            Sarah turned 13 last September and is officially 6’1” tall or three inches more than last year.  Sarah serves as the Beehive Class President for the 12 and 13 year old young women in our church congregation.  She also is famous for her origami work. The little kids at the end of our church meeting come flocking to her for something she has made.  Sarah is in eighth grade at the Salt Lake Center for Science Education.  She enjoys the math portion a little more than her science portion but has some good teachers.  Last May her class went on a three day field trip to Mesa Verde near the four corners region of Utah and last month they went snow shoeing up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Sarah and her Dad share the same iTunes account and constantly surprise each other on what each other purchases! 
Jessica now 21, graduated from LDS Business College with her Associates Degree in General Studies and is now a junior at Utah State and recently applied for entrance into their Elementary Teacher Education Program.  If life went perfectly she would be done with her studies there in about a year or so.  She has had some good roommates who have encouraged her to “participate in life” and her parents still cry every time she drives away.  Her 2002 SAAB continues to work well in transporting her to and from school and we have been pretty lucky to have her visit some weekends when we’ve had family functions.  We can always tell when Jessica is gone, because something seems to be missing in our home, but we are grateful to have Sarah around to torment.
            Cathy started working full time last August for Utah State Office of Higher Education doing customer service on student loans.  It’s been a little bit of a change from her prior work with the school district, but has given her some additional opportunities and pay.  She also continues to serve as the Relief Society President for the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake. Cathy enjoys driving our recently acquired Subaru Tribeca and so graciously assigned our 1996 Chevy Suburban to Carlton.   Cathy still enjoys reading when she gets a chance and has instilled that desire in our kids.
            Carlton is starting his 16th year on the City Council in Salt Lake City and has decided it will be his last year as a councilmember.  He serves as the President of the Utah League of Cities & Towns, President of the Associates Board of the Natural History Museum of Utah and as Chair of the Wasatch Economic Development District. Carlton is still employed at Zions Bank and continues to serve as the Stake Sunday School President in our Church. In March, Carlton participated in the My Heart Challenge with Intermountain Medical Center, loosing 43 lbs and winning most improved.  The whole family worked together and benefited from the effort.  His blog which can be found at: www.carltonchristensen.com now has 10 followers a huge gain after 12 months! 
            We are ever so grateful for your friendship and support of our family.  We want you to know how much we love our Savior Jesus Christ and what a profound impact that has played in our happiness and the direction we plot for ourselves.  We wish you the best for 2013!