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Utah mayor aims to lead by example following mayors' conference

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Alex Gonzalez

(Utah News Connection) The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the prime opportunity for local leaders to connect with colleagues about shared challenges they face, but also engage with the federal government to discuss improvements. 

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Salt Lake City faces challenges surrounding housing affordability, homelessness and climate change and having the opportunity to hear how other mayors are addressing certain issues was enlightening. 

She added it is helpful to have direct access to federal departments that supply trillions of dollars that go toward the betterment of states and cities like hers.

"This conference was about making sure that we are not leaving a single dollar on the table," she said. "And that every application we submit for federal grants and support are competitive as they can possibly be."

Mendenhall said while there is plenty of criticism surrounding President Joe Biden, she praised the impacts that have come from what she called an unprecedented amount of investment from the Biden-Harris administration to help everyday Americans achieve more stability and have more access to opportunities.

Mendenhall added one of the most impactful sessions she attended was on public-private partnerships, which are collaborations between the government and private enterprises, often involving large infrastructure projects, and said Salt Lake City is poised to execute at least one, if not several such partnerships in the future, which would be a first for Utah.

"Accelerator for America, who brings technical expertise to cities, and who've been part of these kind of these organizational structure creation all over the country, is access to talent that we don't have to hire here at the city. It doesn't cost us anything most of the time," she said. 

Mendenhall said she takes her responsibility in being the mayor of the capital city very seriously and hopes their efforts and ideas are also shared and valued across Utah.