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Taylorsville Journal

City Council incumbents earn easy wins look ahead to challenges awaiting them in 2024

Jan 05, 2024 01:21PM ● By Carl Fauver

This hill on 5400 South near 1300 West is where Councilman Curt Cohran wants to see a sidewalk constructed to make the route safer for pedestrians going to and from Millrace Park. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

We’re likely to see plenty of national election drama this year as we continue heading toward what still appears to be an inevitable Biden vs. Trump rematch for the White House.

Taylorsville voters should have plenty of stamina to handle the ballot fireworks to come because there was no such drama in their municipal election late last year.

Incumbent city council members Curt Cochran (District 2) and Anna Barbieri (District 3) knew way back in the heat of summer they would be around at least another four years. When the race filing deadline came and went, they were each unopposed.

Meantime, in City Council District 1, Ernest Burgess faced a challenger. In fact, he’s never had the luxury of running unopposed. But just as he did in 2011, 2015 and 2019, Burgess emerged victorious, earning roughly two out of every three votes.

“That first election in 2011 was very close; and I never take these elections for granted,” Burgess said. “I rode my green bicycle door-to-door, talking to as many voters as I could for several weeks. Some voters told me ‘I’ve been waiting to see you on your bike.’ I’m grateful for all the support I received. We (city council members) aren’t perfect; but we try to do what’s best for our citizens.”

In the entire nearly 30-year history of Taylorsville City, there have only been two people to ever serve the city council from District 1. 

In the first couple of years the city existed, council members were elected “at-large” – there were no districts. That changed in 1998 when D.L. Bud Catlin began representing the newly-established District 1. He remained in the post through 2011 – and might have remained longer had ill health not forced him to not seek reelection.

At the moment, Catlin remains the longest serving Taylorsville City Council member ever, at 13 years. But the record will pass to Burgess about a year from now.

“I never would have run against Bud because I thought he did a great job for our District,” Burgess added. “But when he was unable to run again in 2011, I decided to get into the race.”

Burgess was sworn into the position in January 2012, meaning he’s now hit 12 years on the council. He’ll break that 13-year record early next year.

“There are lots of things (the entire city council) would like to follow through on in 2024,” Burgess concluded. “I want to see The (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Temple open, so we can help address any issues, such as parking or traffic problems. I also want to assist with the planning and decision making for the BRT (bus rapid transit line, which will require a major reconfiguration of 4500/4700 South, east of Redwood Road). We still face plenty of challenges. I look forward to continuing my work with the rest of the council, and mayor, to address them.”

As a much “newer” member of the Taylorsville City Council, District 2 representative Curt Cochran is among those who’s pleased to see Burgess remain in his post.

“Ernest brings a real sense of wisdom to the council,” Cochran said. “He wants to understand every issue very well so he can explain it to others. He’s also very conservative about our city budget and wants to make sure our money is spent wisely, as we all do.”

As for his own city council race this fall, Cochran hopes the lack of a challenger indicates residents are satisfied with the work being done on their behalf.

 “When I talk to people, most of them tell me they feel (our city) is moving in the right direction,” Cochran said. “I know the city council consistently has high approval ratings in the annual surveys we conduct. But I never like to say I feel good or comfortable with where things are. We have to continue to identify what needs to be improved in Taylorsville.”

Cochran identifies the city’s increasing traffic congestion, housing shortage and on-street parking in neighborhoods as three of the key challenges Taylorsville elected officials will continue to face in 2024. He also still wants to address an issue that’s been important to him since the moment he joined the city council.

“My top priority is still to get a sidewalk put in on the north side of 5400 South, from Millrace Park (1150 W.), up the hill to 1300 West,” he said. “I’ve spoken with UDOT and Salt Lake County about the project. I have also taken them out to the area for field trips. So, I’m not frustrated nothing has been built so far, because awareness has been raised. But I hope we can find the money to move forward on that project.”

Millrace Park is also on the north side of 5400 South. The 23.2-acre site includes two pavilions, a children’s playground, restrooms, a community fishing pond and a fenced, off-leash dog park. Also, last year at this time, the park was home to the only two community pickleball courts in all of Taylorsville. But that was a high priority for city leaders last year when 10 brand new courts were constructed: south of the Taylorsville Senior Center, in Vista Park and at what will eventually become a new city park on several open acres on the northwest corner of 6200 South and 3200 West.

So far, the four new pickleball courts are the only park amenity at that location. City officials promise more will go in as money allows. To this point, the location is being informally referred to as “Tank Park,” because it is adjacent to a pair of very large water tanks.

On to the third reelected Taylorsville City Council member, Anna Barbieri (District 3), who still has never faced a challenger since she was selected by the remaining city council members on September 30, 2020, to replace Brad Christopherson after he moved out of the district. 

After Barbieri was selected by the other council members from a field of four candidates, she would have been required to face any challengers the very next year (in November 2021). But she was unopposed. Then, to get her District’s “election cycle” back on schedule, she would have faced another challenger last November. But, again, no one sought to run against her.

So now, for the first time, Barbieri has been elected to a “normal,” four-year term, running through the end of 2027.

“I think, overall, Taylorsville is a very well-run city,” Barbieri said. “There’s not a lot of squabbling among council members. We all have pretty conservative values. We know residents want a reasonable tax rate and they want their money spent well. I’m very pleased our annual public surveys have been overwhelmingly positive.”

Barbieri is very proud of some of the things city leaders have gotten done during her first three years on the council.

“The creation of our Taylorsville City Police Department is at the top of our accomplishments during my time in office so far,” she added. “Beyond that, the completion of the new performing arts center and our front yard (Centennial Plaza) has helped create a great sense of community. The Starry Nights @ the Plaza program is bringing many people out. We’re also seeing new businesses coming to the city. Target coming in has been great.”

Barbieri is also very excited a community council was reestablished in her district last year. And she’s pleased with all the infrastructure work being completed along Redwood Road. Several curb, gutter and business entrance driveway improvements are continuing to be made now, as weather allows.

With Burgess, Cochran and Barbieri all now elected to remain in their respective seats through 2027, the next municipal election (in November 2025) will be for City Council District 4 (Meredith Harker), District 5 (Bob Knudsen) and Mayor (Kristie Overson). 

Mayor Overson believes Taylorsville is moving forward successfully.

“I like to think our residents are happy with the direction we are going,” she said. “I am really pleased with our council. They work as a team, and this administration listens to their concerns. We have had a lot of tough issues: housing, construction, transportation. But the work is so much easier when we can work together and listen to various points of view.”

As for 2024, Overson says improving residents’ outdoor recreation opportunities will remain a high priority.

“We are excited to continue moving ahead with park improvements,” she concluded. “We still have to identify more funding sources. But I’m confident we’ll be able to do that. Major changes are coming to Taylorsville Park in 2024. We also hope to make more improvements at Tank Park, now that the pickleball courts have been completed.”

Finally, Overson added, the curb and driveway work along Redwood Road – from 4100 South to 5400 South – is coming along.

“I am so appreciative of residents being patient,” Overson said. “The work isn’t done yet. But I believe residents will be pleased with the beautification when it’s finally completed.” λ

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