In final debate, candidates for SLC mayor emphasize future plans

SALT LAKE CITY — In their 14th and final debate, the candidates for Salt Lake City mayor urged voters to think about what kind of city they want in the future.

“This is an important election,” Erin Mendenhall said. “This growth we’re experiencing, the investment we’re experiencing will not last. But how much we get out of it as a city, for the quality of life that we have here will be determined by who your next mayor is.”

Her challenger, Luz Escamilla, said it is an issue of whether voters want a new direction or not.

“At the end of the day, it’s about Salt Lake City. How do we become the inclusive Salt Lake City that we want to be, a sustainable Salt Lake City?” she said.

Both acknowledged the significance of two women on the ballot. The debate happened to be at the Alta Club, which did not allow women to be members until 1987 (and one of its first women members was Deedee Corradini, who went on to become Salt Lake City’s first woman mayor).

Both touted their experience — Escamilla in the Utah State Legislature and Mendenhall on the Salt Lake City Council — and their policy positions. They answered audience questions about growth, air quality, transit, the inland port, refugees and immigration and making city hall more accessible to residents. Escamilla wanted increased frequency and accessibility of transit, Mendenhall pressed for a UTA fare to be used anywhere to get people around the city. On development planned in the Granary District, Mendenhall suggested recruiting tech industry while Escamilla said she wanted more west-side voices involved in decision making.

Asked about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its influence, both candidates acknowledged the cultural and even real-estate impact of the faith, but both rebuffed any criticism of a candidate’s religious viewpoints.

Recent polls have put Mendenhall ahead in the mayor’s race, but both candidates predicted a close race.

“We’re just excited to finish strong, we feel really good about our grassroots campaign,” Escamilla told FOX 13.

“I’m going to knock on doors every day until Election Day. We are taking nothing for granted,” Mendenhall said.

Watch the final debate here:

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