Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker sits down with Managing Editor Bryan Schott to discuss his general election matchup with Jackie Biskupski. He also discusses why he's still dealing with the fallout from the ouster of former Police Chief Chris Burbank, why he's not getting enough credit for Salt Lake City's booming economy and how the local media has covered him and his opponent.
On the perception he's spent too much time in Washington over the past eight years:
"I knew I would need to earn a third term, which I would need to show the voters what I've accomplished is consistent with a third term."
"One of the things I learned early on is a lot of the decisions that are made in other places directly affect Salt Lake City. We've received over 100 million dollars in grants from the federal government while I've been in office. We would not have the Sugarhouse Streetcar had I not been so seriously pursuing funding, developing relationships and information that was needed. I don't apologize for that. I think it reflects well on the city, the national recognition that I and the city are getting. And it's brought great benefits to Salt Lake City."
On the ouster of Chris Burbank:
"It's one of several hard decisions that a mayor has to make sometimes. Chief Burbank did wonderful work within our community. We had a longstanding disagreement over personnel matters. The issue that tipped it over the edge for me was his unwillingness to address the cases of sexual harassment and the culture of sexual harassment within his department. We had a major disagreement and the time came that we needed to separate. I know it was a shock to the community because it was an issue that was not exposed to the community as a whole and it was upsetting."
"My opponent certainly has changed her position on this. She made comments initially that Burbank should have been fired, and when she saw the huge, popular support for chief Burbank, she's withdrawn that statement and makes a politically acceptable sounding statement. As with this matter and many matters, she is trying to walk a nice political line. On this issue and many others, she's tried to walk a very comfortable political line. They're platitudes. If she were in my position, she would need to make some decisions as well. I will stand up any day for the way I make decisions and for trying to make the best decisions I can and then moving on."
On media coverage of the race:
"I am a huge proponent of the media and the role the media plays in a successful democracy. It needs to be challenging and shedding light on the things that need light shed on them. I will say outside of the Salt Lake Tribune, the coverage of both this race and the things that are happening in this city, has been really good. In the case of the Tribune, it is dumbfounding to me how their coverage has failed to cover important things in this city that are being covered nationally, while they cover little nitpicky things where someone will make an accusation against me that is completely unfounded and not even give a balanced sense of reporting. It's been frustrating to the point where I feel like I can't talk to reporters from the Tribune without recording what I am saying because what I say does not get reflected accurately."