Wood addressed legacy, promises in State of City speech
Mayor Cherie Wood spoke about the legacy of South Salt Lake during her State of the City address. (Kelly Cannon/City Journals)
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By Kelly Cannon | email@example.com
Mayor Cherie Wood addressed the legacy of South Salt Lake and promises made to its residents in her State of the City speech given during the Best of South Salt Lake awards ceremony. The special presentation took place on March 15 at the South Salt Lake Columbus Center.
Wood began her speech by addressing how often people tell her they want to live or work in South Salt Lake and ask how the city continues to thrive.
“What makes us Utah’s Small Town with Big City Opportunity? First, we have a vision. Second, we have a team committed to that vision and third, we work our hardest every day to make progress toward that vision,” Wood said. “The result—we are building a legacy.”
Wood said the key to success is the relationships they have built, the times they have shared and the vision of working together. Because of this, she said she is dedicated to keeping her team together. Wood then shared successes the city has had, beginning with the police department.
“With so many businesses and residents to watch out for, they have one of the highest call volumes in the valley. But they still treat everyone they encounter like family,” Wood said. “They are making dramatic changes in our community through community policing strategies like Coffee with a Cop and Business Watch, mentoring youth at the PAL Boxing Center, Bowling with a Cop, and by getting involved in Community Connection, Good Landlord and other programs to strengthen neighborhoods to prevent crime.”
Wood specifically addressed the PAL Boxing Center, saying an officer who mentors kids there took three teenagers, Omar Garcia, Alex Padila and Abby Lopez, to the National PAL Mentoring conference in Washington, D.C. There, Wood said the teens had an eye-opening experience.
“The biggest lesson they learned was that what you see about police officers in the media is very rare. They met the 99 percent of officers who are passionate about protecting people and making a difference,” Wood said. “The youth came home wanting to be advocates for our local police department to help them make a difference.”
Other successes mentioned by Wood included the low-cost services provided by the public works department, the recreation department’s work to build a community, and the tireless efforts of the local chamber of commerce.
The speech then shifted to looking toward the future with Wood saying every day, South Salt Lake sees new businesses, new residents, first-time homebuyers, young families and new immigrants.
“We believe so firmly in being a city of opportunities, we took this beyond being a community vision—we have made promises,” Wood said. “Everything we do, every single day is helping us keep these promises, with the idea that everyone gets on board and makes these their goals.”
Wood then talked about those promises made by her administration, the first one being the promise that every child in South Salt Lake will have the opportunity to attend and graduate from college for free.
“From free preschool, to free afterschool programming at 14 community centers (one in every neighborhood) to the free college scholarships at Salt Lake Community College (PACE and Trio scholarship), Westminster College and Stevens-Henager College just for South Salt Lake residents,” Wood said. “We know every dollar spent now will pay off in the future, and our donors do, too.”
Wood announced a large endowment was established this year at Westminster College to allow South Salt Lake youth to attend for free.
The second promise Wood addressed was everyone has a safe, clean home and neighborhood. Wood said her administration has been working hard to make sure South Salt Lake is the first community where people choose to buy a home.
“I am happy to report that property values in South Salt Lake rose 13 percent in 2016—the third highest jump in Salt Lake County behind Bluffdale and Holladay,” Wood said. “There are over 1,000 housing units in the pipeline in South Salt Lake right now. That alone will grow the city’s population by eight percent.”
The third and final promise was that every resident has the opportunity to be healthy and to prosper.
“Keeping South Salt Lake prosperous is also why I committed to keep taxes low since the day I took office. I feel like a broken record here, but I have to say it every year or people don’t believe it,” Wood said. “I am not proposing a property tax increase in this year’s budget. Let me say it one more time, I am not proposing a property tax increase in this year’s budget. A big shout out and thank you to our city council who helped us keep this promise. No property tax increase in South Salt Lake in 11 years.”
Wood then addressed some of the challenges facing the city, including the two proposed sites for homeless shelters within the city limits announced by the state.
“We all know that there needs to be a compassionate and effective solution for the homeless,” Wood said. “But I am steadfast in the belief that South Salt Lake is not the best fit for our citizens or the homeless population.”
Wood explained the city is already supporting many facilities and services for disadvantaged populations and they cannot expect the public safety and other departments to accommodate a 200-bed facility. Wood also said the two sites selected do not meet the criteria set forth by the state.
“South Salt Lake is a compassionate and kind community. Just look at how we have embraced our refugee friends,” Wood said. “But we know these sites do not serve the homeless population or our residents. I believe both deserve more, and I will fight for you.”
Wood then announced the Best of South Salt Lake Awards. They are as follows:
Citizen of the Year: Ida Bickley
Education Leader of the Year: Afton Lambson, Lincoln Elementary
Volunteer of the Year: Chad Carpenter
Community Champion: Don Ward
Senior Citizen of the Year: Jane Qualizza
Young Leader of the Year: Aaron Dustin
Council Champion: Ben Pender
Legacy Family of the Year: The Kershaws
Community Advocate of the Year: Robyn Ivins, president of the Cottonwood High PTA
Teacher of the Year: Yuri Perez, Cottonwood High
United Way Promise South Salt Lake Partner of the Year: Jon Pierpont, Utah Department of Workforce Services
Rock Stars: Lyn Creswell, Christie Hoins, Chad Keller, Ben Vaea, Alex White, Anthony Pappas, Christina Cline, Troy Perkins and Edward Lopez
Employee of the Year: Leann McFalls
Best Legacy Business: RC Willey
Best New Business: HOJ Engineering
Best Community Builder: Mountain Land Design
Best Business Volunteers: Bimbo Bakeries
Best Diner: Left Fork Grill
Best Business Remodel: 2121 S. State Street
Best Commercial Building: Sprinkler Supply
Best Residential Design: Adams Garden Cove by Mock Enterprises and Sancus Development
Best Transit-Oriented Development: Via Apartments
Best Small Business: Firehouse Subs
Best Public Art: Lars Call for “Inside South Salt Lake”