Salt Lake County receives national recognition for welcoming immigrants
Today I had the honor to announce that Salt Lake County is the first county in the nation to be
certified as a welcoming community by
Welcoming America, a non-profit, non-partisan organization.
At a time when there is so much divisiveness over immigration at the national level, public and private partners have come together in Utah to find a path forward to a more resilient and inclusive economy. We are looking to harness the wealth and the vibrancy that comes from diversity and as we do so, Salt Lake County stands out in the global workforce as a welcoming place.
When we began this effort several years ago, we asked ourselves some questions: What are the common values shared across new and older residents of this community? What are the opportunities for real listening, sharing and understand across differences in our backgrounds? What bridge building efforts already exist in this community that can be built on—what are the existing assets and who are the trusted community leaders?
To be certified as welcoming, we met the core requirements in seven categories critical to building a welcoming community: Government, Leadership, Equitable Access, Civic Engagement, Connected Communities, Education, Economic Development and Safe Communities. We worked closely with our partners at the Salt Lake Chamber and the local business community, with the education community, with local elected officials, law enforcement, faith leaders and many others.
We also had strong participation by immigrant community leaders and businesses. They are examples of the economic and cultural strength we want to build on and expand.
Utah has long been a state where we roll up our sleeves and come together around solutions that bring us together. This Welcoming Standard certification is the latest example of what we can achieve with good will, commitment and teamwork.
Visit slco.org/welcoming-salt-lake to learn more about our efforts to welcome immigrants and New Americans.
Olympia Hills veto
In the 10 days since the county council approved the Olympia Hills development agreement and re zone, I have heard from hundreds of residents. At last night’s town hall meeting in Herriman, the message was overwhelming: too much density and not enough infrastructure to handle traffic. See community feedback from the online survey here
On Friday, June 15, I vetoed the project approval.
We all know that this is not the end of discussion about growth. We are one of the fastest-growing counties in the U.S. and that growth is unstoppable. We all want places to live for our kids and grandkids that are close by and affordable. As a community, we must come together around plans for how we grow in the next five to ten years, and what infrastructure is needed to support our growth. Failure is not an option. If we don’t get this right, the quality of life we enjoy in Utah will suffer.
While we must think about our future, we cannot ignore the problems we face today. We are taking our children to school, to baseball practices, and dance recitals, and commuting to our jobs. Our roads are already inadequate for our needs today. What comes next affects all of us; the current residents most of all.
I hope that the public engagement that grew in response to the Olympia development will now turn towards helping elected officials make wise decisions on what comes next. We’ve got work to do and the only way to do it is by working together.
Olympia Hills development proposal
Since the Salt Lake County Council voted to approve—on June
5th-- the proposal from the developer of the Olympia Hills project,
I’ve received numerous emails and phone calls from residents opposing the
project. (See the proposal that was presented and approved by the County Council )
Most people cite the project density, the impact on traffic
congestion and overcrowded schools as a major worry.
I’ve already asked—and the Municipal Services District
Board agreed—to postpone the MSD’s vote on the project. I want more time to
hear from the residents and to explore options for changes to the proposed
I have until June 20th to veto the council’s
action. A veto is an option that I am
considering, and the council would then have to decide whether to override a
veto. I think there is a better way
forward if we can come together and find an acceptable compromise. I’m meeting with the mayors and council
members of Herriman City and other municipalities to discuss options.
I have scheduled a public town hall meeting for Thursday,
June 14th, to listen to the voices of residents. It will be held at Herriman High School,
11917 S Mustang Trail Way, beginning at 6:30 p.m. For those who want to give me
written comments, we will have comment cards available. You can also send me an
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I appreciate all the residents who have reached out to me to share information and their views on the issue. I recognize
that this decision affects all of us, but the residents of the southwest part
of the county most of all.
Preschool, health clinic on its way to Kearns
We recently broke ground on a Utah Community Action project that will bring Head Start preschool and childcare along with a health clinic to the Kearns community. The school will serve over 150 children, creating a safe place of learning for Kearns kids at this important stage of their lives. The partnership making the new center possible includes residents living in Kearns. Their feedback and participation is critical to providing the services their community needs the most
When the doors open on the new community center, it will be a game-changer for the kids and families who will be served. It is a privilege to have worked along side the Kearns community to make today happen.
Salt Lake County files lawsuit against opioid drug manufacturers
District Attorney Sim Gill and I announced a lawsuit
has been filed against drug manufacturers that knowingly downplayed the dangerous effects of prescription opioid pills. We are feeling the high-cost of their predatory practices – in the death and destruction opioids are causing families right here in Salt Lake County.
At least one Utahn a day overdoses on opioids – that’s seven each week, 30 a month. That’s the scale of the human tragedy that we’re facing. We are dealing with the same public health crisis that is devastating counties across this country, due to the sales and overdose deaths of highly-addictive opioid pain pills.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the past 15 years, more than 183,000 people in the U.S. have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
Two million more across the country have turned to heroin use.
Although these pills generated billions of dollars in revenue for the drug companies, people who become addicted can’t afford to buy the pills on the street, or get into a substance use treatment program, so for many, the alternative is to buy cheap heroin. Addiction is a terrible illness that does not discriminate –male, female, young, old, white collar, blue collar, high school education or graduate degree—all of those make up the ranks of those who struggle against this disease.
Today’s typical heroin addict, according to the data, starts using at age 23, is more likely to live in the affluent suburbs and was unwittingly led to heroin through painkillers prescribed by a doctor. Parents are burying their children; drug overdoses already kill more Americans under age 50 than anything else. I am heartbroken hearing the stories from residents of death and destruction. It is time for the drug makers to be held accountable.
The complete lawsuit can be found here