Candidate Statement: My name is Jim Dabakis. I live in the lower Avenues. I have been a small business-person for the last 30 years, meeting a payroll and dealing with all the issues that entails. In 2010, I turned my business over to my husband and dove headfirst, full-time, with passion, into trying to improve my community, city, and state by jumping into politics. I was elected as Utah State Democratic Party Chair. I served without pay or expenses, traveling the state, rallying people to get involved! I loved every minute of that job–as I explored our breathtakingly beautiful state and met people who inspired me every single day.
In 2013, over tough competition, I was elected to the Utah State Senate–with a seven vote “landslide.”
My six years in the Senate ended last December. It was a great joy and the honor of my life to represent you. While I served in the Capitol, I was always firm (and loud) in representing OUR values, but I made great efforts to keep the friendship and respect of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. Nothing is possible unless we work together.
It would be my privilege to represent you, this time as Mayor. I would love your support.
Mayoral Candidate Questions:
Salt Lake City has not had an update to the Transportation Master Plan since 1996. What is your vision for transportation in Salt Lake City, and what would you do to get a new transportation master plan in place?
A great city transportation system is “all of the above.” But a safe place for bikers has a special place in heaven. Add in ingenious light- rail transportation access, and hundreds of bus lines. By working with downtown businesses, the University of Utah, and Salt Lake County, I will plan more bike-to-work days, with better incentives. I will also put forward an action plan creating more protected bike lanes. We need more bike plans to convince cyclists to bike down into the city.
I will increase access to buses. We need stronger last mile solutions. I will not just have free fare days, but will work hard to get free UTA fares or very reduced fares- all the time. This will convince more commuters to find an alternative transportation route to Salt Lake City.
What is your vision for cycling (both road and mountain biking, commuting and recreation) in Salt Lake City? What would you do to make that vision happen (planning, budget, infrastructure, education, safety, economy, etc.)?
I will work my spandex off to make better education for non-cyclists! I am a firm believer that the majority of accidents that happen between motor vehicles and bikers are due to one of the two overestimating what they thought they could do on the road. Even though the cycling culture is increasing and improving in Salt Lake City, accidents are still happening all too frequently.
I will work with the many great Salt Lake City non-profits such as the bike collective, who work to educate and encourage better access to bicycles. I will partner with them. I will also promote the bike rental companies in Salt Lake City to help encourage education and a chance to “cycle to work.”
Climate change is endangering the planet. Car and Truck Transportation is responsible for approximately 23% of the US CO2 output according to the EPA. And, transportation accounts for approximately 50% of PM2.5 emissions according to UCAIR. Salt Lake City is moving towards carbon free electricity generation. What will you do to move towards a carbon free transportation system in Salt Lake City and consequently obtain better air quality? How do biking and walking fit in your plan?
By maximizing UTA, we can get Salt Lake City and Utah to less carbon transportation. UTA is a world-class transportation system, yet there is much room for growth and expansion.
I will work passionately to make UTA access free to all riders, which will encourage alternative transportation in and out of the city–hence, less emissions, road costs, and cleaner air.
I will include biking into this plan by developing strategies to offer incentives to businesses to participate in the Bicycle Friendly Business program. As for walking, we need to work to make it safe and promote the health and vigor of it!
Complete Streets are streets for people of all ages using all types of mobility. Salt Lake City has a Complete Streets Ordinance that was passed into law in 2011. Yet the ordinance is often ignored, or circumvented (for example on 100 S, 700 S, and 2100 S). Salt Lake City recently passed the Funding Our Future Bond and implemented a city and county sales tax that will go to fund transportation. What would you do to ensure that the ordinance is strengthened and followed, especially in regards to those streets reconstructed with the bond?
I believe this comes from a lack of better communication between the county, the City, UDOT, and cycling advocates. I will strengthen these relationships, so that we can all work on a larger strategy that will support transportation in our region for years to come. New transit lines and bus routes, free/ reduced fares, and improving crosswalks/ protected bike lanes will help to strengthen these bonds.
UDOT Roads are important corridors for bikes as well as cars. What would you do to work with UDOT to ensure that UDOT and SLC implement bike facilities on these roads such as State Street (see Life on State)?
Salt Lake City roads are becoming an increasing corridor for bikes, as the culture continues to grow. My goal is to create a State Street culture that is welcoming and safe for bikers as well as pedestrians and drivers. It is a huge piece of the heart of downtown.
The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan guides bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Salt Lake City. What will you do to ensure its rapid implementation? Are there improvements that you would like to make to the plan?
I think the plan is great and as mayor, I will continue to implement and reinforce its attributes. As I stated before, I support the protected bike lanes. I know not all streets are uniform with these protected lanes, which can cause confusion for oncoming traffic, bikers, and walkers. We need a serious approach to implement more uniform policies for bike lanes on streets. I embrace the approach to implement this to the large master plan that accounts for future bike lanes and bus routes.
Salt Lake City currently does not have a formal Vision Zero program. What will you do to work towards Vision Zero (zero fatalities) for cyclists and pedestrians in Salt Lake City? Would you commit to establishing a formal Vision Zero program? What would you like to see in regards to speed limits in Salt Lake City?
Safety for all citizens in all modes of transportation is really important. As citizens move out of their vehicles and into alternative transportation, we need to prioritize safety; whether that is alternative transportation specific lanes, campaigns to promote safety and wellness, or better technology to keep bikers safe. I believe that zero fatalities is 100% a reachable goal, and we shouldn’t stop striving to get there.
What do you think of the new shared electric scooters in Salt Lake City?
They are a great last mile solution. They add vibrancy, and excitement to our downtown. They are a modern solution for parking, and short distance commute problems. As mayor, I will work with the scooter companies to create, fund, and promote campaigns that educate users about safety and courtesy as we share roads and sidewalks.
While the scooters are safe for much of the public, we need to be aware of our community members that NEED our sidewalks who can’t get around otherwise (canes, wheelchairs, etc). We need to be better about educating scooter users about not using sidewalks.
What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake City and what will you do to address it?
I think the biggest issue for cyclists currently is the danger they face from oblivious drivers. Educating the community on biking and traffic laws is a priority. Additionally, by working to create more protected bike lanes, we can help increase better awareness for bike travelers not just at rush hour, but for all hours.
Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
Both my husband and I have bicycles. I get out. I love the rush of wind in my face. I have used the GreenBike program! It is incredible–and deserves broad support from the city!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
[Editor’s note: No answer.]