New SLC board makes history, majority being BIPOC and LGBTQ +
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Salt Lake City will make history in more ways than one with its upcoming city council. For the first time, the majority of the board will be made up of people of color and LGBTQ +. Not only will this council be the most diverse in terms of race and sexuality, but it will also be the youngest group the city has ever had. Four out of seven of them also speak Spanish.
The four color council members will be:
After winning the election for District 1, Petro-Eschler was appointed by Salt Lake City Council on Nov. 9 to fill the seat vacated by James Rogers in October. She is the Executive Director of Salty Crickets Composers Collective, a non-profit organization that promotes classical music education. She also served on the city’s Commission for Historical Monuments.
Puy is a queer Latino immigrant, who said he went to college with several jobs in research and policy advocacy. He and his friend started a local consulting company that employs dozens of people each year.
Valdemoros was originally chosen by city council in January 2019 to serve the remaining term in place of Derek Kitchen, after being elected to the Utah State Senate. Later that year, in November, she was elected by the residents for a four-year term. Since then, she has been chosen by her peers at the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) to be its president.
Mano was chosen by city council in January 2020 to fill the remaining term in place of Erin Mendenhall, after being elected mayor of Salt Lake City. He is the director and founder of the architectural firm Raw Design Studio. He speaks Japanese and is actively involved with the Asian American community.
“It’s such a pleasant surprise and I’m really proud of the new board members we have on our team,” said Valdemoros. “It’s a dream come true that came faster than I thought.”
“I think for a long time Salt Lake City had representatives who value diversity. But it’s different to have representatives who * ARE diverse and have these lived experiences, ”Mano said.
“I think it shows that the city is electric, evolves and grows with the way the city changes too. It is therefore a great privilege to represent a part of this very diverse city of Salt Lake City. I’m looking forward to it, ”said Puy. “Being a person who has an intersectionality of identities myself, I think it gives a great insight into how to connect with the people who live here, many of whom are not voters. “
Valdemoros made history two years ago, as the first person of color elected to Salt Lake City City Council. Now she will be part of history again, serving alongside three other members of the Colored Council. Two of them will serve the most diverse districts of the city.
“I was hoping that once elected, I would also inspire others to come to the table, throw their hats in the ring and give their point of view as we make decisions in the municipality,” he said. she declared.
In the same breath, the council will also be predominantly LGBTQ + with Alejandro Puy (District 2), Chris Wharton (District 3), Darin Mano (District 5), and Amy Fowler (District 7).
“The reason I think this is important is that Salt Lake City has always been a haven for the LGBTQ community and for communities of color. Now we are not only a place where people feel safe to live, but we are a place where people feel safe to stand up and lead, ”Mano said.
“Growing up I felt that part of me [being gay] was less desirable or less accepted. So I felt like I might never be able to hold public office because of it, ”Wharton said. “To have a place like Salt Lake City where I’m not only accepted, but where people trust me to lead and make important decisions on their behalf is simply gratifying. “
Fowler said she hopes the diverse new faces coming to city council will encourage more voters to voice their needs and engage with their elected officials.
“I think we have to remember that representation matters. People need to be able to look up and say, “Wait. This person looks like me, ”Fowler said.
Wharton said the work for diversity, equity and inclusion is just beginning. The new council hopes that one day it will become common for legislative bodies to resemble the communities they serve.
“Representation is so important. But these are the first steps. Just because we elected LGBTQ + people doesn’t mean we were successful, any more than having a black president means we live in this post-racial society, ”Wharton said. “The people we need to hear the most are the people who are most afraid to come to town hall. Hope this is a turning point for this.