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Taylorsville Journal

Veteran Taylorsville Planning Commission member Barbieri joins city council

Oct 28, 2020 04:50PM ● By Carl Fauver

Veteran Taylorsville Planning Commission member Anna Barbieri has now joined the city council. (Taylorsville City)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

The longest-tenured person to ever serve on the Taylorsville Planning Commission has abruptly resigned her post of more than 10 ½ years but only because the city needs her expertise elsewhere.

Anna Barbieri was elected unanimously by the four remaining Taylorsville City Council members to fill the Council District 3 seat, vacated when Brad Christopherson resigned his post after moving out of the city.

Barbieri was elected in a special city council session Sept. 30, defeating three other candidates: F. Troy Buchanan, Bradley Manuel and Dan Tibbitts.

In addition to her time on the planning commission, which began in March 2010, Barbieri also serves on the city’s Economic Development Committee. She’s also volunteered time at Taylorsville Dayzz information booths. Barbieri also played a key role in 2018 in getting Salt Lake Valley food trucks to include the city on their summer circuit.

“When this [city council] opening became available, it was not on my radar,” Barbieri told the other council members on the night of her election. “But I got to thinking, there is not one person at Taylorsville City that I would not enjoy working with, and that’s pretty rare. So, I decided to apply.”

Barbieri graduated from Midvale’s Hillcrest High School in 1981 and from Utah State University four years later with a degree in English and secondary education. She’s lived in her Taylorsville home since 1998. Barbieri is married with two daughters, one living in Virginia and the other in Provo, where she is a BYU student.

In 1993, Barbieri and her sister launched White Elegance, a clothing manufacturer specializing primarily in dresses for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to wear while performing temple activities. The company also markets white clothing to Masons, choir groups and other organizations.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Barbieri says White Elegance sales are off 60% to 70%. However, in that time the company has produced thousands of medical gowns, masks and caps. White Elegance employs 24 people at four Utah locations and also contracts out manufacturing work with a Texas company.

“White Elegance has been a challenge and a joy for 28 years,” Barbieri told city council members. “It has given me a great grounding in [small business ownership and operations] information I can bring to the city council.” 

Once she officially decided to throw her hat into the ring for the city council post, Barbieri did her due diligence.

“I spoke with [Economic and Community Development Director] Wayne Harper, [Mayor] Kristie [Overson], the chief financial officer, [Scott Harrington] and others,” she said. “I asked them questions about how the city government runs—what is difficult, what is interesting, what are the dynamics between the administration and the city council. I am not a lover of conflict, so I wanted to hear their opinions about how things operate.”

Prior to the Sept. 30 vote by city council members, Barbieri and the other three applicants were asked a series of questions. Among her answers, Barbieri said:

  • “Safety and infrastructure will be priorities for me. With the new police department being created, that will be important.”
  • “I want to see more potential business sites developed along Redwood Road.”
  • “Our city park on Redwood Road [and4700 South] needs some help, and I would like to see commercial development west of the park.” 
  • “I would like to see more [pedestrian] connectivity in the city so kids can walk to school easier and residents can get around better.” 
  • “I would like to see more ethnicity in community events to allow diverse groups to get to know one another.”

Barbieri’s election places a second female on the city council for the first time since Kristie Overson left the governing body—after her election as city mayor—in January 2018. The council vote also instantly created a gaping hole on the eight-member city planning commission. 

“We lose 10 years of experience and knowledge and someone well-versed in city planning codes,” Planning Commission Chairman Marc McElreath said. “It’s a big loss for the planning commission, but Anna will still be around, and we can draw on her knowledge. She’s now just one level higher [than the planning commission]. At the end of the day, it is great for the city.”

The Taylorsville Planning Commission has representatives from each of the city’s five city council districts, along with two at-large members and one alternate. Alternate Don Russell is now filling Barbieri’s position until an official replacement is appointed by the city council.

Lynette Wendel is another member of the planning commission who will miss Barbieri’s expertise .

“Anna Barbieri will be a great asset on our city council,” Wendel said in an email. “As a dedicated volunteer on our Economic Development Committee, and as our tenured planning commissioner, she has both the commitment and knowledge to make great things happen for our city. Anna’s strength is her ability to look at all aspects of a project and make sensible decisions. I’m very grateful for her contributions.”

Perhaps Barbieri’s most high-profile accomplishment as an Economic Development Committee member came in the spring of 2018, when a chance meeting with a young entrepreneur put Taylorsville on the map for the Salt Lake Valley’s Food Truck League.

“I attended an economic development luncheon sponsored by Bank of Utah and went looking for people to network with,” Barbieri said at the time. “I just randomly sat by a stranger for lunch. He turned out to be Taylor Harris, who owns and operates the Food Truck League.”

“It was purely a coincidence, Anna joining me at the luncheon,” Harris added. “I told her about how our food trucks go to many different locations along the Wasatch Front—as a group, normally once a week—allowing families to come out to dine with everyone getting to choose what they want. It’s kind of a shopping mall food court, outdoors. She seemed to like the idea, and the next thing I knew we were adding weekly league stops in Taylorsville. The city had been looking at this idea for a while but had never really gotten too far along with it. But Taylor explained how it could be done with very little cost or risk to the city.”

The food trucks were a weekly Saturday night staple outside city hall in the summer of 2018. Construction of the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center limited their visits in 2019, while COVID-19 completely eliminated them this year. But the trucks are expected to return as a regular summer fixture next year.

“I want to be proactive [as a city council member],” Barbieri said. “I don’t want to wait for things to happen to the city. I want to help make good things happen.” 

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