Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski’s Inaugural Address
On January 4, 2016, the new mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski, delivered the following inaugural address. We were delighted to hear her emphasize so many issues on which we share concerns and interest. We look forward to working with Mayor Biskupski and her administration to improve the quality of life in our capital city and beyond as we work to turn Salt Lake City into the next Great American City.
Thank you for being here today. I want to start by acknowledging how grateful I am for the love and support of my family who are here today; My fiancee' Betty, and our sons Archie and Jack, my father, Marvin Biskupski, my sisters Pam and June and their families, and my cousin Teresa.
I also want to extend my utmost gratitude to Mayor Ralph Becker and his entire staff for their 8-years of service to the people of Salt Lake. We are a better city because of your efforts and unquestionable love for this city. Thank you.
Today we gather in the spirit of optimism.
We gather together as a community to affirm our belief in the strength of our future.
As newly inducted leaders of this great city, Charlie, Derek, Andrew and I have taken an oath to not only protect and defend the laws of this land, but to serve the people of Salt Lake City.
As your new mayor I commit to building an inclusive and welcoming city worthy of the unique history and legacy of this place we call home.
Generations ago, men, women, and children, weary from their journey crossing the nation found rest on this very spot. Those pioneers, those refugees, began the process we continue today, the process of building a city where all can find hope. A city where mind, body, and spirit can thrive.
A city of opportunity.
Like many before me, I visited Salt Lake City and was so drawn to it, I simply couldn’t leave. I stayed not only for those beautiful mountains that tower above us, but because of you—the unique people of this great city.
It was here where I found the opportunity to build my own business, where I found neighbors who have become lifelong friends.
It was the courage of a group of East High School students who started the first Gay Straight Alliance and stood up to leaders who worked to ban a club intended to create a safe and welcoming space for kids, that sparked in me a responsibility to my own community.
It was at the State Legislature where I worked with individuals, divided by issue and culture, who found common ground to solve the problems we faced.
And it was here where I started, and where I continue to expand, my family.
The people of this city are why I ran my first race. And you are why I am standing here today. And it is for you that I will work every day to build a city for everyone.
As a community we have nothing more in common than the air we breathe. And the air we are breathing in Salt Lake City is simply unacceptable.
It’s unacceptable to potential businesses that want to move here, to our universities trying to recruit top talent, and to people of faith in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and ward houses across the Wasatch Front who believe in protecting what God has given us.
It’s unacceptable to kids on soccer fields, joggers in our parks, seniors walking our neighborhoods, and those enjoying all our mountains have to offer.
For the last decade, we have made great progress in bringing awareness to this issue. This has been driven by people like Mayor Ralph Becker, Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall, and citizen activists, who have made this a top priority in their work and personal lives.
From Temple Square to the Oquirrh Mountains our skyline is obscured for several months out of the year, including today. Even the picturesque vistas of our canyons and monuments in southern Utah— where many of us find solace—have been dulled by pollution. This is a problem we cannot ignore.
As the new mayor of the capital city, I promise improving our air quality will be at the core of every decision and policy we make.
Legislators, developers, business leaders, church leaders, and fellow mayors across the Wasatch Front, I will be reaching out to you so we can take collaborative and concrete steps to solve this problem. I look forward to working with you because the residents of this state, especially our children, deserve better.
Those of us who live and work in Salt Lake City must also fulfill our responsibility. In the coming months, I am committed to shepherding the completion of a comprehensive Transit Master Plan that addresses our unique, intra-city needs, resulting in fewer cars on our local roads and less pollutants in our air.
When it comes to protecting our environment and the health of the people who live here, we cannot afford to allow ego to enter the conversation. I will use my platform, to bring together partners to find solutions that will allow us all to breathe easier.
Our city has always served as the crossroads of the West. We have benefited not only from our strategic location, but from the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the people who live here.
Today, businesses from around the world see Salt Lake City as a place to grow and to find the talent they need. And those who live here have—for generations—used their creativity to build businesses of every type and size. These businesses have secured a livelihood for individuals, families, and neighborhoods throughout Salt Lake City.
But we can and will do more.
City government plays a vital role in our economic success. From permits to building codes, we must create a stable and streamlined process that allows for responsible growth and opportunity for new and existing businesses. Our city agencies will work together much more closely to promote a culture of customer service so businesses can focus on theirs.
We must also promote our pioneering brand of entrepreneurship in every corner of our city. When it comes to opportunity, we will not allow a freeway to divide us. To secure our future we must bring focus to our city’s dynamic West Side.
We have great tools to promote economic development and we have used them to improve upon our city.
Now we must make a commitment to develop plans as diverse as the residents who live in Salt Lake City—not only because it is the fair and just thing to do—but because true success has no boundaries.
And to ensure our city’s success we must ensure the success of students in all our schools. I am committed to bringing the city to the table on issues of education.
More than 80 languages are spoken in Salt Lake City schools. We are educating refugees and children from multiple cultures.
We are currently in the process of choosing a new SLC School District Superintendent. I will use my voice on the school board to ensure we select an individual who has the cultural competency to provide for all students, the necessary tools to achieve academic success.
As the capital city we cannot afford to miss out on economic opportunities. We will be as competitive as our regional neighbors when attracting businesses of every kind.
In Salt Lake City we have world class institutions producing the brightest minds, and we have the know-how to develop an infrastructure that promotes and incubates innovation. We will use both to develop a technology corridor in our city.
Our unique heritage has long placed significant value on the arts. Salt Lake City is a cultural hub, not just for the state, but for the entire region.
We will work together with our local artists, musicians, dancers, performers, and county partners to create the cultural core we have long envisioned.
We will integrate the arts in a way we have never done before, making it a key component of our overall economic development plan.
This change will create a spectacular arts experience for everyone in our community, drive tourism, create jobs and spur innovation.
As much as our pioneering spirit defines us, so does our compassion.
Salt Lake City has been a place where those in need have found help and refuge. We continue to set an example for everyone in this state and nation on how to care for the less fortunate.
Now our compassion compels us to help develop a new model to care for the homeless.
We know it is in no one’s best interest to force families from their neighborhoods and children from their schools while they search for shelter and services.
We will help cities and counties across the state learn how to integrate resource centers into their own communities and develop true low-income housing to prevent homelessness and poverty.
Tremendous effort is currently making this a reality. Never before has there been a better working relationship among service providers, government, business and community.
I want to thank, Gail Miller, Palmer DePaulis, SLC employees, the Collective Impact Steering Committee, the Pioneer Park Coalition, the advocates at the Road Home, Crossroads Urban Center, and many others who are leading the discussion to find lasting solutions to homelessness.
Our City will continue to play a key role in these discussions and provide our fair share of the responsibility to feed, house, and treat those in need.
We will also continue to find new ways to help bring relief to those currently impacted by this issue.
As a first step, I am committed to finding ways to strategically root out the criminal element that hides and preys upon the homeless population. This criminal element makes us all less safe and distorts the face of those who truly need our help.
We must also disperse the homeless population in order to provide them with safer environments to live and better opportunities to become self-sustaining and independent again.
As I begin my time in office and work to address the issues and opportunities that lie ahead, I do so with confidence in our city’s talented workforce.
My commitment to build a city for everyone also extends to the employees of Salt Lake City.
I am here to serve you as well. I am here to listen and to learn from your daily experience, to understand what is working and what can be improved.
And most importantly, I am here to set a tone of respect, one that I expect to be followed by every member of my staff.
I have already heard from many of you, employees at all levels, who have provided unique insight into this city. During the last major storm I was able to meet our fleet of “Snow Fighters,” the men and one WOMAN, Kim—she’s there driving the plows too—who ensure our safety when our roads are covered with snow.
And over the next four years, I pledge to you, our city’s employees to engage in dialogue with you. You will see me in your offices, precincts and firehouses, the airport, our fleet garages, and our sanitation facilities. The day-to-day knowledge you have is an invaluable resource to ensuring the success of our city.
While I may not get my hands as dirty as some of you, I can assure you this is a hands together administration.
To my colleagues on the City Council, I commit to working with you on the issues we face and I know we will proceed with a level of respect and cooperation worthy of the trust that has been placed in each of us by the residents of Salt Lake City.
Today, I accept an awesome responsibility. I accept the trust this city has placed in me. I do so knowing that I stand on the shoulders of those who have assumed this role before me. And I do so with gratitude for their service.
Today, I have the honor to serve the people of the capital city. To listen to your concerns, put your interests first and to always lead from a place of integrity.
I am ready.
It is time.
Let’s get to work.