Salt Lake County Mayoral candidate and current West Valley Mayor, Mike Winder posted his cell phone number in a recent billboard campaign reading “I listen”. After repeated attempts leaving voice mails with Winder to comment on the West Valley Crooked Sidewalks story—which is about claims that West Valley isn’t small business friendly— I was about to give up. I decided he must have believed he was too big time to speak to Utah Stories, or worry about small businesses complaining over his policies.
But yesterday while working on a story talking to business owners on Main Street, coming out of an interview there is Winder in person prepping for a Mayoral debate outside of KUTV news! What a coincidence!
Finally, I had a chance to ask Winder face-to-face and ask him why he allowed the 40-year-old business the Carpet Barn to simply leave West Valley rather than work with them and modify the ridiculous sidewalk ordinance that would force them out.
The ordinance had a clear double standard for large corporations as opposed to family owned businesses: Smith’s need not bother with the sidewalk ordinance, nor the new rec center; but The Carpet Barn, a 40-year-old family business, determined it would be better to move from the lot they own in West Valley rather than pay approximately $70,000 to renovate the sidewalks to comply with West Valley’s ordinance. This sidewalk beautification ordinance would have required them to do the city’s job of building a safety zone between the sidewalk and the street. The Carpet Barn decided to abandon their paid off lot and instead move to South Salt Lake.
Winder said that he really knew nothing about it, despite the Carpet Barn’s owners, the Macqueens meeting Winder at one of his weekly sessions, “Milk with the Mayor”. He claimed complete ignorance in their plight and their appeals to the city for assistance. I showed Winder a photo demonstrating how the sidewalks in West Valley are indeed crooked due to this flawed policy.
Winder’s final response: “If the mandate defies common sense then the ordinance should be changed.” This ordinance certainly defies common sense, but will Winder step up to the plate and take a stand for small business owners and change the sidewalk beautification ordinance?
You can call his cell and tell Winder what you think, his cell number is on an I-15 billboard heading toward IKEA. We don’t feel at liberty to hand it out, but perhaps he will “listen” or maybe even hear if enough people call.
Read the Crooked Sidewalks story in our current June 2012 issue of Utah Stories Magazine.