Council appoints Johnny McConnell as new councilman
The newest councilmember Johnny McConnell sits between Councilmen Mark Kindred and Ben Pender in his first council meeting. McConnell was appointed by the council to replace Councilwoman Debbie Snow. (Kelly Cannon/ City Journals)
The South Salt Lake City Council has a new member. Johnny McConnell was appointed as the newest member of the council on Jan. 25 after several interviews. McConnell replaced Debbie Snow, who had to resign from her position after she moved out of the area.
The council had interested parties answer questions via email prior to the meeting. The council selected nine candidates who were then interviewed during an open work meeting. McConnell was voted in 5-1, with Councilwoman Sharla Beverly voting for Ryan Gold.
Members of the council thanked all the candidates before taking a vote for the new member.
“I want to thank the candidates that came out tonight. I think we have a tough decision. We have some good, qualified people,” said Councilwoman Portia Mila after the interviews were concluded. “I really appreciate everyone’s willingness to serve.”
Councilman Kevin Rapp said he was encouraged by the number of people who wanted to serve the community.
“This is not an easy job and it’s very controversial and it’s something that you have to step out of your comfort zone to do,” Rapp said. “But I’m glad to see that because there have been too many times in South Salt Lake where there has been an election where there was only one person who signed up to run.”
McConnell had previously ran for a spot on the council but had lost to Mila. Councilman Shane Siwik said the reason he voted for McConnell was because McConnell had run for the city council before.
“They have invested a lot of blood, sweat, tears and money. I think for them to have knocked the doors and have gotten to know the pulse of this community like they have, I think for me was worth further consideration,” Siwik said. “Not that those of you who didn’t shouldn’t be commended for your interest and your desire. But it takes a lot to go out there to bang the doors and do this. That was a huge factor in my mind.”
During his interview, Beverly asked McConnell what kind of edge running a campaign gave him over the other candidates. McConnell said it gave him a chance to get to know his community.
“I got to get out and spend a lot of time visiting with people and I got a chance to find out what my community is like,” McConnell said. “I got to meet people and got a chance to see what their concerns were. When I knocked on doors, I got a chance to visit with who they were. That was really big.”
McConnell works as a teacher in the Murray City School District. He cited education as one of the important issues facing the South Salt Lake Community.
“That’s one of the things I’d like to do as a councilman, to kind of find out what we can do to educate our kids,” McConnell said. “Our kids are important and I know a lot of our people who live close to the schools are not sending their kids to South Salt Lake Schools. I think that’s an issue.”
McConnell also said he is concerned about the high number of rental units in South Salt Lake.
“From what I understand, we have less than 100 homes that are worth $250,000,” McConnell said. “I’d like to see some houses. I’d also like to see some retail.”
Councilman Mark Kindred asked McConnell what he would like to see on State Street. McConnell explained as you drive up and down State Street, each city has a different feel to it but South Salt Lake seems to be more of a “hodge-podge” of different communities.
“I think there needs to be some kind of an identify,” he said. “I think the idea of us having a downtown, I would like to see that spread to the point where South Salt Lake looks like an inviting community.”
McConnell stressed that concept of identity during his final remarks when he talked about how when he and his wife moved to South Salt Lake, they decided they wanted to get involved in the community.
“My big thing is I would really, truly like to see South Salt Lake gain an identity, that we’re a proud community,” McConnell said. “And we’re a place to come, a place to buy things, a place to live, we’re a place to grow our kids. That’s what I’m looking to do.”