Need a signature? Look in your own backyard. In my case, look to those who can see into my backyard.
I was one signature away from reaching the 75 minimum to get on the ballet for Salt Lake City Council and I was running out of steam. It was hot as a pistol outside and I was pooped after hitting all of Garfield, the neighborhood north of Sugar House Park.
Garfield is a very slick area. The northwest corner is 1300 East and 1700 South and squares off at 1900 East and 2100 South. It’s sleepy bedroom district with cute, well-maintained homes. You’ll find a fair amount of BLM signs and pride flags, old growth trees, and friendly folks. It has all the charm one imagines when thinking about Sugar House. The only word of caution for other candidates thinking of canvassing this neighborhood: I’ve never climbed so many steps to reach people’s front doors. Garfield porches sit up high.
I met a super cool resident. Her name is Alice and her home on Redondo is an incredible art studio. She’s transformed her front lawn into this technicolor art installation filled with arches and interactive pieces. She’s doing this cool thing where you write on a tab what you’ll be doing in 13 years and hang it on this display. I said, “Cocktails in Moscow.” Might as well put those Duolingo classes to use.
We only talked for a moment because she was working on her next installment, but I took a selfie and posted it. Alice somehow found it and corrected me. I tweeted I was on Ramona. It was an important lesson. If you’re running for office, you damn well better know where your people live. Check out Alice’s website.
Slow It Down
Across the street from Wasatch Hollow Park, I met Wayne. He’s a young father and cares about his son’s safety and the safety of his neighbors. Specifically, he wants to know why we can’t enforce speed limits on 1700 South. As we were talking, we saw multiple cars speeding east- and westbound on the road. It was madness. The longer we talked, the more we witnessed drivers violating the neighborhood’s speed limit.
1700 South was busy that Saturday. There were tons of people cycling and you can see kids across the street playing in the park. Why you need to go in excessive of 30 mph in a residential neighborhood is a mystery to me. Between the pedestrians, cyclists, and parked cars on the road, the idea of driving over 20 mph is a real-world problem for all Salt Lakers.
Wayne was not alone. Suzy down the street from him complained about the threat speeders poise to the safety of her family. And this issue is not reserved for Garfield.
Earlier in the week, I was canvassing Upper Country Club—think the far east portion of SL Country Club, across the street from the Walmart. Two residents complained about people driving too fast in a non-thoroughfare neighborhood. This neighborhood is strictly residential and yet, people continue to put other folks in jeopardy with excessive speeds.
We need to reexamine how we drive in this town. Specifically, we need to stop acting like self-entitled jerks and slow down. Government should only have to step in when the citizens cannot police themselves. And in this case, government need to take steps to protect citizens from dangerous driving.
It’s time to lower the speed limit to 20 mph on residential roads.
Connecting the Dots
I’m discovering that the concerns of the citizens on Green Street match up with folks by the Country Club. They care about the homelessness issue in District 7. They’re concerned about traffic. They do not want any form of light rail going down Highland Drive. They’re exhausted from non-stop construction in the community. While they feel safe from violent crime, they’re concerned about petty crime like porch pirates, garage burglaries, and car break-ins. There’s little support for ADUs and they want accountability for neighbors running illegal Airbnbs—it’s against SLC ordinances to rent for less than a week, only hotels can do that.
The more I meet the citizens, the clearer perspective I’m gaining of their concerns and wishes for District 7. While some of the concerns we can tackle on day one, lots of their issues will require time and hard work to fulfill. I figure the better I understand the needs of the district, the better prepared I’ll be to represent the will of the people.
Back to the Story…
After hitting every house in Garfield, I was still a signature short of to get my name on the ballot. It takes 75 signatures to qualify to get on the November ballot—or you can pay $90. I made a promise to myself that I would drop out of the race than pay the fee. It’s the principle of the matter. If I’m going to run for office, I’m going to ask at minimum 75 people to support my campaign. Paying the money just feels like cheating.
I headed back home. Climbing out of the car, I knew the afternoon nap I promised myself would have been cheap without that last signature. But where to go? My house has a bunch of apartments that look into my backyard. Unfortunately, because of high turnover rates, I rarely get to meet my neighbors. This felt like the perfect time to resolve that shortcoming. Four apartments, four opportunities to get a signature.
I need not worry. Ryleigh was the first to answer and the first to sign my petition to get on the ballot. We talked about what we love about the neighborhood and what can be done to improve Sugar House for all residents. She doesn’t like the volume of traffic on 900 East—neither do I. And just to make sure I have enough coverage, I hit the other three homes. Two didn’t answer, but Judy and her son Eric did—two more signatures.
Thank you to everyone who signed my petition. I’ll be officially filing with the City on August 10. Even with the prerequisite number of signatures, I’m still committed to knocking on every door in the district and meet as many people as possible. Besides, it’s surprisingly fun asking strangers to support your campaign.
One final note: thank you to all that stopped by the booth at Yappy Hour. It was a hoot. We got to meet a ton of folks, collect more signatures, and hand out the koozies. It was awesome seeing all the dogs at Fairmont Park and spending time with our neighbors.
Ben Raskin is a candidate for Salt Lake City Council District 7. Follow along his adventures at @BennyRaskin or on Instagram. Want to support the campaign? Consider donating $7 for the 7 District. For all other information, visit VoteRaskin.com.