In Depth: Candidates focus on transit, local business

By By Jane Stringham

By Jane Stringham

The four candidates vying to fill the District 6 City Council seat vacated by current mayoral candidate Dave Buhler all boast diplomas from the U. All stress a concern for small, local businesses, and all are Salt Lake natives. So what, exactly, makes them different?

Voters in District 6, which encompasses much of Sugar House, the Hogle Zoo, Bonneville Heights and the U campus, will choose from business consultant Ellen Reddick, lawyer Roger McConkie, local businessman JT Martin and field service engineer William Huckins.

Martin leads the group in the number of financial contributions to his campaign, which totaled $27,551.80 as of Aug. 30. Roger McConkie comes in second with $18,310, followed by Reddick with $10,955 and Huckins with $75.

The candidates have different views on TRAX expansion. McConkie does not favor a Trax line into Sugarhouse, saying that “there are more urgent needs, like the line to the airport.”

“I want to see Sugar House become a gathering place for people, and I support running TRAX into that neighborhood,” said Martin, owner of the local Emigration Market.

Reddick said an expansion into Sugar House “would be marvelous.”

Huckins, a 20-year Air Force veteran, said he drew inspiration for the race from his involvement with opening an airport in Baghdad, Iraq. During his three years there, four elections were held and several candidates were killed. “I’m doing it for the candidates,” Huckins said, “because we can do it here.”

Huckins said he feels one of the most important issues surrounding the campaign is “maintaining the neighborhoods’ ambience.” Wal-Mart recently purchased the lot that K-Mart occupies at the top of Parley’s Way. Their proposal to expand the store “may hurt businesses in Foothill Village or Sugar House,” Huckins said.

McConkie, who stresses his 19 years of experience as a lawyer in his campaign, said students at the U should be aware of this issue of mass transit.

“I’m in favor of it, but buses have not caught on and we need to examine alternatives,” he said.

Both Reddick and McConkie support an East-Side Police Precinct. The former champions a precinct because “crime rates do drop when a precinct is an area,” and the latter for “more efficient disaster response time.”

McConkie also advocates the Downtown Rising initiative plans that favor a “circulator” mass transit system and further connect the U with downtown.

“The U is one of the things I’m most passionate about,” McConkie said.

Martin also said he wants to “make U students feel like they’re part of a great community.”

His own community, built around his business at Emigration Market, has given 250 young adults their first jobs and has spent $6.5 million in payroll since 1999, according to Martin.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the community,” he said.

Reddick serves on the board of Buy Local First, which includes Martin’s Emigration Market. “Small businesses do so much for our city,” she said. Reddick is also the author of two books and boasts 35 years’ experience in local and international business communications, according to her website.

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