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The City Journals

Current, former city council members demand apology from Mayor Bradburn

May 20, 2019 11:35AM ● By Justin Adams

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

In a Feb. 1 Facebook Live video, Mayor Kurt Bradburn accused the former city council and administration of being beholden to developers. Now current and former Sandy City Council members are asking for an apology. 

Bradburn’s comment came in response to a question about whether or not his position about a proposed development was influenced by a $10,000 campaign contribution he received last year from the developer in question, John Thackeray, owner of the Thackeray company. 

“The previous administration would have (felt beholden to developers). And the city council,” said Bradburn. “That’s what happened. You made a contribution to the previous administration and then the developer got whatever they wanted… The planning commission and city council would rubber-stamp it.”

Chris McCandless, a city councilor since 2005, sent a letter to the mayor asking him to recant his Facebook video comments.

“Mayor Bradburn denied that request,” said McCandless during the May 14 city council meeting. 

McCandless went on to defend his record as he listed a number of projects mentioned by Bradburn in his Facebook video, declaring that he did not receive any campaign contributions from any of the companies associated with their development.

“I have never rubber-stamped any application and personally take great offense at the inference that I could be bought with a campaign contribution,” he said. 

Steve Smith, a former city council member, shared similar feelings during citizen comments. 

“As one who was part of the prior council, I take great offense at the insinuation that I was bought and paid for. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Smith. 

Both McCandless and Smith accused Bradburn of doing the very thing he accused the former city council of doing. 

Smith said the mayor has taken campaign contributions from the very same people. “Own up to the fact that by taking those contributions, you are also a rubber stamp,” he said.

In his 2018 campaign contribution filing, Bradburn reported receiving $49,100. Eighty percent of that amount came from companies or individuals involved in real estate development or construction. 

“The mayor accused the past city council in a statement of false facts and doing something he just did. He met with a developer, accepted a huge contribution, and then endorsed the developer’s project. It’s a little disingenuous,” said McCandless.  

The “endorsement” refers to the same Facebook live video in which Bradburn speaks positively about the Thackeray Company’s proposal to build a housing development on the site of the old Ream’s grocery store at 10600 South 700 East. 

“This barely qualifies as a high-density development. This is 10.3 units per acre. I think this is a workable development here,” said Bradburn in the video. 

Bradburn, who doesn't have a vote on whether the project is approved, noted that he wasn’t making an official recommendation to the rest of the city government.

“We are not giving a favorable recommendation for this project to the planning commission. We’re simply presenting the facts and letting the planning commission and city council vote how they feel best,” he said. 

When asked in a Facebook comment about Thackeray’s $10,000 donation to his re-election campaign by a Sandy resident, Bradburn said the question was disingenuous and said the person asking the question was not a “supporter” of his campaign.

“He worked very hard to make sure I didn’t get elected,” said Bradburn.  

After McCandless’ call for a retraction or apology during the May 14 city council meeting, the council chair Kris Nicholl asked Bradburn if he would like to comment and he declined.