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