Three Qs and a Beer | Buzz Blog

Three Qs and a Beer

City Weekly sits down for a drink with this year’s eight mayoral candidates.

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DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle

This year’s SLC mayoral race has been a doozy. Between sheepish mailers, claims of “dark money” and Rainer Huck’s festive debate headwear, it’s easy for a voter to get bogged down with election noise. Enter the great regulator: Beer (and in one instance, tea). In a candid chats with City Weekly, all eight candidates sat down, talked shop—and suds. Want to know which mayoral hopeful used to get hopped up on Thunderbird? Read on.



STAN PENFOLD

Meeting place: Beer Bar (161 E. 200 South, 385-259-0905, beerbarslc.com)

Drink of choice: Hefeweizen


Do you remember your first drink?

“It wasn’t beer, it was a margarita. Which is kind of funny, because people don’t usually start with tequila. My experience has been, people will say, ‘I can’t drink tequila.’ I love tequila but my theory is tequila was the first alcohol they had and got really sick so they have this bad association with it.”


What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about Salt Lake City while campaigning?

“When I’ve run before, it’s just sort of been my neighborhood [Penfold is a former District 3 council member]. What’s been pretty amazing is discovering these sort of really cool little clusters of streets. We were down somewhere west of Liberty Park on this short little street, big old original trees, great little houses and it was almost one of those caricatures of a neighborhood. It’s been fun to discover these pockets of really cool neighborhoods.”


What do you think residents are looking for in a candidate this election?

“I think people are being unusually serious about this race—they’re really checking into the candidates and are concerned about how they want to vote.Most of our responses when we talk to people are they’re undecided, but undecided in an, ‘I’m trying to find out who to vote for’ kind of way.” (RH)


RAINER HUCK

Meeting place: Murphy’s Bar & Grill (160 S. Main, 801-359-7271, murphysbarandgrillut.com)

Drink of choice: Diet Coke


Do you remember your first drink?

“Well, I’m not Mormon or anything. I used to drink a little bit when I was a young guy, but it never did anything for me. It just put me to sleep. So, it’s never been a factor in my life. But again, it’s not because of any religious beliefs.”


What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about Salt Lake City while campaigning?

“Just how little interest the media has in candidates. I guess because of polling numbers. I got in the race kind of late. The reason I did was because all the other candidates seem to be monolithic. You could really elect any of them and I don’t think you’d get anything different. So I thought I’d focus on issues that affect the people of Salt Lake, especially the working people.”


What are some of those issues?

“Police violence. Justice system abuse of poor people and the homeless. I’m the only candidate that has a real solution for the homeless problem, which is a homeless campus. I can build that homeless campus in the Northwest Quadrant that will provide every service the homeless people need. The new homeless shelters are going to be 100% inadequate. My homeless campus will accommodate 5,000 people and it will have every service they need.” (RH)


DAVID GARBETT

Meeting place: Kiitos Brewing (608 W. 700 South, 801-215-9165, kiitosbrewing.com)

Drink of choice: Kiitos Amber Ale


Do you remember your first beer?

“Yes. I didn’t like it at first. I started drinking later in life—late 20s when I started. It was a bit more of an acquired taste early on.”


What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned while campaigning?

“I think the coolest thing about this campaign is going throughout the city and having conversations—seeing people are interested in their city, passionate in their city and that they want to have these conversations. They want to talk about ways to make it better. Air quality is a big one. I say it unsurprisingly, but I have thought during this campaign, ‘Today is the day I go to a neighborhood that doesn’t care about air quality.’ And I have yet to find it.”


What’s been the most challenging part for you?

“It was a first-hand experience on what it takes to raise money in a race. Especially coming from someone with no name recognition, the only way I can change that is raising money to get out and talk to voters. Sometimes it reminds me of that idea about if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around. You can have the best policy ideas in the world, and if you can’t get those to voters, can’t do some advertising, can’t pay for some material, it doesn’t really matter.” (RH)


DAVID IBARRA

Meeting place: Dick N’ Dixie’s (479 E. 300 South, 801-994-6919)

Drink of choice: Bud Light. “I like Coors Light but that is a Bud Light, because they don’t have Coors Light [on draft].”


Do you remember your first drink?

“It gave me a headache and I still can’t drink it to this day, but who would want to. It was a gallon that our friends got called Thunderbird wine. It was cheap wine and, my heavens, after you drink a little bit of that, we’d put it in Kool-Aid to make it drinkable. And, oh my, would you get sick.”


What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve learned while running for mayor?

“I’m really surprised the order of things are pretty much the same no matter where you’re at. The environment is the biggest issue. It’s interesting that most believe the environment has gotten worse when factually, that’s just not the case. We’ve had two good mayors. Mayor [Rocky] Anderson who really started the ball of paying attention and making our city a leader in battling what a city could do for the environment. Then we come in with [Ralph] Becker and the implementation of our bike lanes. That’s such an important part of our infrastructure. I think the next phase is going to work itself out. Clean energy is a given in 10 years because the old equipment we have that brings in dirty coal generated electricity will be retired.”


What’s been the most challenging part of the campaign?

“The irresponsible way we view the shelter-resistant population. Doing the easy thing is [letting them] sleep in public space. They’re my brothers and sisters. I won’t turn my back on them but you just did when you don’t do something to remove them from the street. We’re a better society than what we’re showing right now.” (RH)


JIM DABAKIS

Meeting place: Murphy’s Bar & Grill (160 S. Main, 801-359-7271, murphysbarandgrillut.com)

Brew of choice: Golden Spike Hefeweizen, Uinta Brewing


Do you remember your first drink?

“I was about 23 years old before I had a sip of alcohol. I was a gold star BYU student. I moved to Salt Lake and discovered, among other things, beer.”


What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned while running for mayor?

“I’ve learned how basically good the people of Salt Lake are. I mean, I’ve knocked on a lot of doors, and with one or two exceptions, people have been genuinely nice. A lady the other day, I got to the door—a senior citizen woman, had a big, long cigarette dangling. I said, ‘Hi, I’m Jim Dabakis, I’m running for mayor.’ She says [Dabakis mimes taking puffing on a cig], ‘I know who you are. I watch you on television. I hate you… Now that I’ve met you, I hate you even more!’ And she slams the door. But that was rare. Almost everybody else has been fun.”


What’s been the most challenging part of the campaign?

“Asking for money. I hate it, it’s awful. I like to go to the Broadway Theater on Sunday afternoons. I have some friends I usually go with. [Recently] I texted, ‘Hey, how is everybody today?’ Nothing came back at all. I said to my husband, Stephen, ‘This is weird.’ Stephen grabs my phone, texts, ‘I’m not going to ask for money, I just want to go to a movie.’ Everybody goes, ‘Oh, OK!’” (PH)


LUZ ESCAMILLA

Meeting place: Creek Tea (155 E. 900 South, 385-275-8827, creektea.com)

Brew of choice: Green tea lemonade


I take it you don’t drink beer?

“I don’t. I’ve never had a drink of alcohol in my life. I love tea. Chamomile is my favorite one—warm and cold. I love lemonade, but with lime.”


What did you learn the most about Salt Lake during the campaign?

“Just how passionate people are for their city. Usually people get passionate when something goes wrong for them—there’s this sense of, ‘I will complain more when something is not working well.’ But actually, people love Salt Lake City. Everyone wants Salt Lake City to get better. Everybody has a vested interest, not only for them but for their neighbors.”


What’s been challenging about campaigning?

“Raising money. It’s brutal. Brutal! We’re a grassroots campaign, I’m not personally wealthy. I work really hard, I’ve always had two jobs. The hardest part with this race is, because it’s local, out-of-state people have no interest obviously. When I ran for Congress, I had tons of people giving me contributions from California. We don’t have that in a municipal race. And when you have eight candidates? This has been a crazy, divided race.” (PH)


ERIN MENDENHALL

Meeting place: T. F. Brewing (936 S. 300 West, 385-270-5972, tfbrewing.com)

Brew of choice: American Avenue Pale Ale, Templin Family Brewing


Do you remember your first drink?

“I do remember my first half bottle of wine. I was actually quite of age. I was in my mid-20s. I sat at my kitchen table with my childhood best friend and she walked me through it. Then she told me to take two Tylenol, drink a glass of water, and sleep well. It was a very shallow-end introduction. Nice and easy.”


What’s the most exciting thing about the campaign so far?

“It feels right. I’m a realist that verges into a pessimist at night and wakes up an optimist and back to realism by noon. I didn’t have any fancy notions of having the time of my life on the campaign trail necessarily. I knew it would be hard work. I’ve run for office before at a council level, but I also knew there were a lot of other candidates and it would be an intense race. The closer we get to the end, the more I’m loving it. I feel very much at home doing this.”


What’s been challenging about campaigning?

“I’m never not campaigning. Even when I’m relaxing, I’m campaigning. I’m on. Like, if you got up to go to the bathroom right now, I’d probably check my campaign’s Instagram and make a post. I surely have some questions from voters waiting in my inbox, so I want to jump on that. And that’s what I’ve been doing for six years. I’ve stood up in front of community councils for the last seven years, starting as a candidate, giving people my cellphone number and inviting them to reach out to me.” (PH)


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RICHARD GOLDBERGER

Meeting place: Beerhive Pub (128 S. Main, 801-364-4268)

Brew of choice: Samuel Adams lager, served with a personal-pan pizza topped with onions, raw crushed garlic, squeezed lemon, plenty of pepper and no cheese.


Do you remember your first beer?

“My late father was from New York, from the Bronx and Scarsdale. He always gave me a tiny taste of his beer. It was good. No beer like Rheingold today, and no beer like Schaefer. Two wonderful beers—New York beers. It’s an art and a science to make a wonderful beer.”


What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about Salt Lake City so far?

“I’ve been in Salt Lake a long, long time. I was here when West 2nd South was open for prostitution. I mean, it was wild. This was back in the ’60s. There were some places people wouldn’t even walk into, they smelled of urine and two-months-old beer. I used to frequent these dives and dumps. But there are no dumps anymore.”


What’s the hardest thing about campaigning?

“I use the media and I use forums, because I have no money. I’m running this campaign on a sub-shoestring. But I’m doing a good job. My slogan is ‘GBO’—government by objectives. I work for the people. I’m totally a public servant. I don’t like politicians. I want to get the politicians out of politics. I want to get the politics out of politics!” (PH)



Editor’s note: Interviews were edited for clarity and length.

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