City Weekly asked the candidates a handful of questions designed to give them a chance to spout more than platitudes. Four of the five go-it-alone mayoral hopefuls rose to the occasion—at least compared to some of the fence-sitting answers submitted by the four in-the-money candidates. At a minimum, the answers are entertaining. McDonough says, in an e-mail accompanying his answers that, unlike Huck, he’s not against taking donations, “but no one wants to give me money.”
As for background, longtime Democratic Party activist Renteria has served stints as director of Centro Civico Mexicano. Rainer Huck, the self-proclaimed conservative “anti-Rocky,” once headed advocacy groups representing landlords and those who want to drive off-road vehicles on public land. McDonough is a college student. Colorectal surgeon Hughes, a Republican activist and one-time congressional candidate, is the most animated of any of the mayoral hopefuls on the stump. Candidate Robert Muscheck, whose court record shows he once professed anti-gay and anti-women sentiments, was mailed a questionnaire and did not respond.
|J.P. Hughes||John Renteria||Quinn Cady McDonough||Rainer Huck|
What should Salt Lakers be most concerned about?
Huck: The growth and expense of government, which is beginning to reach into nearly every aspect of life. The essence of government is force, which is the oppressor of freedom. Concomitant with this is the infestation of radical environmentalism, which distorts priorities that should be ordered on the basis of economic considerations. I will send, in a separate e-mail, an analysis of the growth of the city budget that graphically dramatizes its unbelievable extent.
Hughes: The greatest concern I have for Salt Lake City is population growth without destroying the unique feel of our neighborhoods. The pressure for demolition instead of restoration is incredible. The master plans for this city are well thought-out and specific. We need to respect the plan and work with people to maintain what we have. The mayor’s office should work with the homeowner for improvements, landscaping and restoration of the single-home model that dominates the current look of this beautiful city. We need to accommodate these homes with local centers for shopping, biking, working and walking with a neighborhood feel.
McDonough: Where our money is being spent. We have a budget but that does not mean that is where the money is going. Everything that we do in this city requires money, our money. Whether it be transportation, security or the development of our city. This all requires money, and we should know exactly where every cent is going. We are the city, and we should find out where our money is being spent.
Renteria: A major concern would be electing a candidate Neanderthal who would take us back to the Stone Age of political mediocrity. If anything, the quality of city services has improved and expanded under assertive, progressive and liberal political leadership. Thanks to Rocky, we need to continue the social urban progress accomplished or lacking in the following: environmental projects; pedestrian/bike-friendly streets; a revitalized downtown that addresses property owners’ concerns and revisits parking, business diversity, liquor lobbying, affordable housing and development. Utilize lessons learned from east side/Avenues/Central City to improve the neglected west side. Promote clean industry and residential development south, west and north of the airport. Hire and promote more qualified minorities and subcontractors to reflect the city’s actual demographics. Support organizations working with disenfranchised populations.
What issue has been overlooked by the political establishment?
Huck: I don’t think anything is being overlooked; they’re into everything.
Hughes: The political establishment—with the consent of business, resident citizens and the community—has ignored the plight of the homeless, the working poor and uninsured. The mayor of this great city can and should become the bully pulpit for these issues. The Road Home is a metaphor for all of us who are living in an alien world far from the home we came from. We all need help: mentors, financial insight, teachers, physicians, emplacement, safe housing, clean water, nourishing food and kindness from our neighbors.
McDonough: I think that the city is overlooking our police and fire services. These men and women risk their lives for our safety. We must make sure that everything they need is there for them. We need a stronger police/fire force in this city. It is of great importance to me that we not forget who keeps us safe.
Renteria: A new “great divide” has emerged more ominous than the real or perceived threat of a theocracy influencing or controlling local governing bodies and quality-of-life issues. Multicultural and class-economic divides in the city are growing at an explosive rate far outpacing transitioned comfort zones and causing a resurgence of racial discomfort among and even within immigrant ethnic groups. Salt Lake City will need to play more than a politically expedient buffer role between the general populace and newest immigrant settlers to the valley.
What is your “big idea” for Salt Lake City?
Huck: I don’t have any “big ideas” for Salt Lake City. The big ideas should come from the people, not from politicians.
Hughes: The biggest idea is to invite all to the party. We should not exclude the second tier from the debate of life. We should not discriminate against the founding church of this great Salt Lake City. Republican should not be a pejorative term. We should listen to the illness in the voice of others about their symptoms. We should look for the signs of problems with language, culture and heritage. Instead of asking “Why are you late for school?” we should ask, “How can I help you to be on time?” The cure of our problems is early detection and prevention.
McDonough: A “big idea” is fun, and I could think of something catchy. But our city needs people to make it great. Public officials cannot do it alone, and we should not expect them to. My “big idea” is that we get our residents more involved in making our city greater than it has ever been. Help keep the streets clean by picking up that piece of garbage. Not waste water on the concrete, but rather on the flowers. Every little thing that we as residents do will help this city become better. My “big idea”? Getting everyone involved, in any way.
Renteria: Salt Lake City should represent a viable social, economic, intellectual and political experience that embraces values of diversity that surrounding communities will endeavor to adopt. A new cosmos (if you will) with a governing style leading to improvements in municipal services, neighborhood challenges and human relations on a more cooperative level of political leadership and tranquility.
What’s your favorite mixed drink?
Huck: Sorry. Although I’m not a Mormon, I don’t drink. Just don’t like the stuff.
Hughes: A cold drink of water on a hot day. The water is the product obscured by the packaging and labeling in the plastic bottle of convenience. Life is like that.
McDonough: Arnold Palmers are really good on the golf course or in the heat. As for an alcoholic drink? I enjoy a beer.
Renteria: Don’t care much for mixed drinks.
What do you drive?
Huck: I own lots of cars and motorcycles. 2000 Lexus ES 300, 1999 Lexus RX 300, 1996 GMC Suburban, 1976 Ford E-150 van, and a 1962 Ford Galaxie convertible, 1999 Yamaha Roadstar, 1997 Suzuki DR650, 1977 BMW R100/7, 2002 KTM 400 EXC. There’s more, but I don’t want to take up too much space here. The most miles go on the Suzuki DR650
Hughes: I own two Cadis. One is 1994, and the other is 2005. These are American cars but not the best beyond 100,000 miles or their engineered obsolesce. I live in Center City and will walk to my Salt Lake City mayoral office on the south end of the City & County Building.
McDonough: I own a 2006 Toyota Tundra and a 1963 Mercury Meteor. I drive the Tundra for reliability.