Last week, this blog asked how much you know about your local elected officials. We get worked up about federal mandates and the national politics, but how many of us know who or much about the city or county council members that represent you here?
Cable news is full of what’s going on in Washington, D.C., but what do you know about what’s going on in City Hall?
Ironically, the skill-set for a Mayor is probably more important than that of the legislators we send back to D.C. as Congressmen and Senators. Where legislators job is to pass laws, the job of the Mayor is, ostensibly, to manage people, zoning, utilities, facilities, and parks. There are many legislators, but there is only one mayor. The mistakes of one may be moderated by other Congressmen, but the management decisions of a Mayor are not so easy to fix or check. And, because a Mayor’s job is more management based, it is, in many ways, a more dull and more important job.
Very important. How the Mayor does his job impacts people daily. The roads we drive on, the sewers we need for basic public health and sanitation, the fleet of plows that issue forth as snow begins to fall, the parks and rec centers where we exercise and play, and more are the responsibility of a mayor, be it city or county. Police, fire, garbage disposal, and tree trimming, too. This is the government that we interact with daily, whether we notice it or not, and it matters. If Washington, D.C. disappeared tomorrow, it might take a few weeks or months before we see the impact, but if the police or fire or garbage trucks were gone, we would feel it immediately.
Who we elect to manage these things matters. It’s not a job for the smooth talker or the well-meaning ideologue. It’s not a position that should be learned on the job, either. The best of intentions won’t make a payroll of thousands, manage a budget of millions, efficiently allocate resources, or improve customer service and employee morale. Those are skills that must be learned over time, through experience.
That’s why my pick for the Salt Lake County Mayor’s race is Mark Crockett. He already has that experience. Instead of making a career out of politics, Mark has made a career out of fixing large organizations. He brings people from all parts of the organization to the table and with them finds the places that money can be saved and efficiency improved. Whether it is large Fortune 500 companies like Bank of America or government agencies like the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Mark has been saving companies $10 billion a year throughout his career.
That’s money saved not through cutting staffs and salaries, but through improving efficiency, removing bottlenecks, and cutting out waste. Instead, that money can be reallocated to help the organization carry out its mission.
We are not talking about small businesses, either, but large organizations of as many as 180,000 employees. With an organization as large as Salt Lake County government, with 4,400 employees and an annual budget around $750 million, that kind of experience matters. It’s not a “learn on the job” position.
Will he–can he–do what he promises?
Mark Crockett has made it clear that he will cut $40 million from Salt Lake County’s budget, or about 20% of the Mayor’s budget. That’s substantial. From 2005 to 2008, Mark served on the Salt Lake County Council, a part-time position. During that time, Mark proposed smaller budgets each year, and when the economy began to tank in 2008, he fought to cut 10% from the budget. As he said at the time, if families and businesses are tightening their belt, then government should, too.
No other candidate for Mayor has been in that position and proposed such dramatic cuts. He’s already proven he can walk the talk. It’s why the Salt Lake Tribune endorsed him in 2008:
“Efficient government” is a recurring theme when Salt Lake County Councilman Mark Crockett talks about his goals [...] And he’s proven it’s more than a campaign motto.
Crockett, a Republican, is careful with taxpayer dollars, a wise approach as the county faces a shortfall in revenue brought on by the national slide into recession. He has worked to reform the county budgeting procedure to emphasize cost savings and better use of funds to streamline county government.
His four years experience on the council, his background as a principal with an investment fund and his council leadership positions, combined with his innate analytical skills, make him the better choice to represent District 4, which includes Millcreek, Emigration Canyon and much of the east bench.
Cutting the budget wasn’t all that Mark Crockett worked towards while on the County Council. He also spearheaded and passed ethics reforms that ended nepotism in county government. He voted against, repeatedly, subsidies for big capital projects such as the soccer stadium, and against creating special classes of individuals with special rights. Mark worked to help unrepresented areas of the County, the unincorporated areas, to get what they need. (There may not be another candidate who understands as Mark does the issues facing unincorporated Salt Lake County and the need for a plan to prepare for the future).
It’s the record of a proven conservative, and it is born of real experience, not just practiced talking points. Mark Crockett won’t jump ship to run for another office, but will put the public interest first. He won’t fudge the truth or mislead voters.
It’s a record that I am sure his rivals envy (and, frankly, that they’ve started to imitate his ideas in their comments says a lot about what they think of him). Most important, it’s a record the Salt Lake County needs. It’s a record that has earned him my support and endorsement for County Mayor.
- Mark Crockett to announce candidacy for mayoral race ()
- Utah mayor defends police handling of Susan Powell case (king5.com)
- Defamation suit filed against pen-named Utah mayor (seattletimes.nwsource.com)