PRESS RELEASE, Utah State Hispanic Democratic Caucus
The Utah State Hispanic Democratic Caucus weighs in on the two democratic candidates for Salt Lake City mayor, endorsing Jackie Biskupski while laying out a range of areas where the city must make progress for the Latino community.
Citing a lack of inclusion and a failure to follow through with commitments under Mayor Ralph Becker’s two terms in office, the Utah State Hispanic Democratic Caucus endorsed his challenger, Jackie Biskupski, for Salt Lake City Mayor this weekend.
The endorsement decision comes after a Latino focused debate between the two mayoral candidates, sponsored by Utah Coalition of La Raza, a candidate survey issued by the Utah State Hispanic Democratic Caucus, and a meeting of caucus members to discuss the endorsement.
“For the most part, both candidates speak well on the issues that matter to our community, but actions speak louder than words,” explained Paula Espinoza-Wells, chair of the Utah State Hispanic Democratic Caucus. “Mayor Becker has had two terms to make progress on the issues that impact the Latino community and our caucus members overwhelmingly expressed that too little progress had been made on those issues, such as transportation, education, and affordable housing.”
The other point of contention the caucus took with Becker was the lack of diversity hires within his administration. “One of the first actions by the Becker administration was to throw out the affirmative action plan implemented by his predecessor, Mayor Rocky Anderson,” explained Espinoza-Wells. “In a city where Latinos account for a quarter of the population, we see very little diversity in Mayor Becker’s staff and among the city’s boards and commissions.”
As an example, caucus members pointed to Mayor Becker’s Homeless Services Site Evaluation Commission, which will make a proposal on whether and where to move the city’s homeless shelter after this November’s election. That commission, caucus members noted, has 30 members to represent the city’s interests and includes not one single person of color.
In addressing diversity in the city, Biskupski’s answers to the candidate survey resonated with the caucus. Biskupski’s survey response stated: “The Salt Lake City Mayor’s office should reflect the diversity of Salt Lake across all departments, agencies, boards, and commissions at every level of employment. We should not silo diversity efforts within the City’s Human Rights Commission. As Mayor, I am deeply committed to diversifying our City’s government, starting at the top with my cabinet and executive staff. I am absolutely committed to recruiting Latino/Hispanic candidates to leadership positions within my administration.”
While pleased with Biskupski’s sentiments, the caucus noted that, should Biskupski win in November, the Latino community would be watching to see substantive policies and real inclusion from city hall. “Our caucus members will certainly offer their collective expertise to a Biskupski administration,” stated Espinoza-Wells, “and we expect to see much greater outreach, inclusion, and focus on issues that matter to the Latino community than the previous administration.”