SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 4, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Jackie Biskupski, sworn in Monday as Salt Lake City’s new mayor, said she is ready for positive change.
“Today, I have the honor to serve the people of the capital city,” she said, “to listen to your concerns, put your interests first and to always lead from a place of integrity. I am ready. It is time. Let’s get to work.”
After taking the oath, with fiancee Betty Iverson by her side and their children nearby, Biskupski shared her goals with listeners outside the City County Building.
“As your new mayor, I commit to building an inclusive and welcoming city worthy of the unique history and legacy of this place we call home,” she said. “A city of opportunity.”
Biskupski is the first openly gay mayor of Salt Lake City, capital city of a state dominated by conservative Republicans.
“It was the courage of a group of East High School students who started the first Gay Straight Alliance and stood up to leaders who worked to ban a club intended to create a safe and welcoming space for kids, that sparked in me a responsibility to my own community,” Biskupski said. “It was at the State Legislature where I worked with individuals, divided by issue and culture, who found common ground to solve the problems we faced.”
Biskupski’s priorities include improving Utah’s air quality.
“As a community we have nothing more in common than the air we breathe. And the air we are breathing in Salt Lake City is simply unacceptable…. As the new mayor of the capital city, I promise improving our air quality will be at the core of every decision and policy we make.”
The mayor also talked about the need for pioneering entrepreneurship, for Salt Lake City’s west side as well as its east.
“When it comes to opportunity, we will not allow a freeway to divide us,” Biskupski said.
“Now we must make a commitment to develop plans as diverse as the residents who live in Salt Lake City — not only because it is the fair and just thing to do — but because true success has no boundaries.”
Education must address the city’s diverse student population. Biskupski said more than 80 languages are spoken in Salt Lake City schools. The mayor will add her voice on the school board to select a superintendent with the cultural competency to handle the job, she said.
Biskupski also talked about recognizing the value of the arts, making them accessible to all, and turning Salt Lake City into a cultural hub. Services and shelters for the homeless also are a priority, she said.
“We will help cities and counties across the state learn how to integrate resource centers into their own communities and develop true low-income housing to prevent homelessness and poverty.”
Biskupski said she is optimistic about the future.
“Today, I accept an awesome responsibility,” she said. “I accept the trust this city has placed in me. I do so knowing that I stand on the shoulders of those who have assumed this role before me. And I do so with gratitude for their service.”