In Depth: District Two candidates focus on west side

By By Edgar Zuniga Jr.

By Edgar Zuniga Jr.

Candidates running in election for the Salt Lake City Council District Two listed changing the negative reputation of their west side neighborhoods, a typically poor district of the city comprised of Glendale, Jackson and Poplar Grove, as their top priority.

Voters must pick between incumbent Van Turner and Michael Clara at the ballot box on Nov. 6. Since there are only two candidates in the race, District Two will not participate in the primary elections.

Both candidates said they want to be an advocate for a part of town that they said is at times forgotten. “We pay taxes just like the east side people,” said Clara, who serves as Poplar Grove Community Council secretary. The west side is turning into a ghetto and we want to stop it.”

Some of the issues that worry west side residents are zoning problems, lack of public transportation, poor street conditions and education, Clara said.

Clara successfully fought to move the Union Pacific Railroad’s 900 South line to make way for the Gateway Mall downtown. Members of the community fought to move the train line because it created too much noise, and the city previously promised a parkway in its place.

Public education is also a concern for many people in the community, Clara said. Hee favors the “No Child Left Behind” program, because it has created an improvement in student literacy levels.

Turner assumed his office in January 2000, and voters re-elected him in 2003. Turner who has lived in District Two his entire life is the current chair of the Salt Lake City Council. Turner, a U graduate, has owned the Hook & Ladder, a small shop in the Glendale neighborhood, for 35 years. Turner served on many boards and committees and fights to remove graffiti from the west side. In 1998, former mayor Deedee Corradini named Turner “Salt Lake City Citizen of the Month.”

Clara served as Glendale Middle School PTA President, Chair of the Utah Hispanic Legislative Task Force, among other groups. Clara was also mayor of Manor, Texas, a small town outside Austin.

In 2003, he run unsuccessfully for Salt Lake City Council against Turner. Clara also ran for the Salt Lake City school board unsuccessfully. Clara said Turner has been a poor council member and “even people who supported (Turner) four years ago say he has done very little.”

Turner was not available for subsequent comment, but some District Two residents disagree with Clara.

“(Turner) is a wonderful person. He definitely has a vested interest in the area, and I know he is a good honorable man, with plenty of integrity,” said Spencer Criddle, a recent U graduate.

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