Salt Lake City Mayor-elect Jackie Biskupski
An ordinance that would have given taxpayer money to help finance transitions into public office of newly elected Salt Lake City mayors and city council members won’t go into effect until the 2017 election cycle.
The need for such an ordinance came into focus shortly after Mayor-elect Jackie Biskupski sealed her victory in November, saying she needed $25,000 to pay for her transition into city hall. Initially leery of such a request, the council, on Dec. 1, reversed course and, in a nonbinding compact, voted 5-2 in favor of giving Biskupski and a pair of her staff members 50 percent of their base salaries prior to assuming office.
But on Tuesday night, the appetite to give this money to Biskupski had dissipated, partly because, according to Councilwoman Lisa Adams, Biskupski had accepted free office space from a developer on South Temple.
“I know she has received in-kind donations in the way of a very nice office on South Temple,” Adams said. “I feel like for us to give city funds to that just doesn’t feel appropriate, and it also is kind of double dipping.”
At the council's Dec. 1 straw vote, Adams voted against a public-funding ordinance.
Councilman Kyle LaMalfa, along with Council Chairman Luke Garrott, led the charge to form the ordinance. However, on Tuesday, after hearing that Biskupski had accepted donations to help aid her transition, LaMalfa withdrew his support, and Adams made the motion to withhold the funding until the next election cycle.
Now, newly minted candidates will receive some pay to help with their transition, beginning with the 2017 election.
“We should’ve had a transition ordinance in place before the election, but I don’t think any of us thought about it,” Adams said. “It doesn’t happen that often in the city and consequently, we’ve sort of been caught in the cross hairs on it. I think it’s really important to have this be a transition ordinance that is transition-specific rather than this election-specific.”
Biskupski bemoaned the turn of events, and wrote in a prepared statement that she was “disappointed.”
“This last-minute maneuver is the opposite of the spirit of transparency the council adopted earlier in the night when passing a campaign-finance-reform ordinance and a disappointing turn in our efforts to ensure a mutually respectful transition,” Biskupski said.