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Erin Mendenhall sworn in as new Salt Lake City Mayor

(Erin Mendenhall being sworn in by Salt Lake City Recorder, Cindi Mansell. Credit: Scott G. Winterton, KSL)

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City’s new mayor Erin Mendenhall says it’s time to get to work.

The city’s 36th Mayor, Erin Mendenhall, is officially sworn in on the eastern steps of the City and County building, calling it the most humbling moment of her life.

First items on her agenda… cleaning the air over the city and solving the homeless problem.

Mendenhall says former Mayor Jackie Biskupski once told all of her employees to find ways they can reduce carbon emissions within their own departments.  Mendenhall thinks that was a great idea, and she plans to make it more permanent.

“I intend to infiltrate this into decision-making process that all of the departments and divisions do, going forward,” she says.

These ideas could include carpooling, using fleet vehicles less frequently or even using landscaping designed to catch these emissions.  She plans to send out a letter to all departments with very specific instructions.

“Come up with suggestions in the next 30 days to be submitted to the City Council and myself of ways their departments and divisions can reduce emissions,” she says.

Mendenhall asked for all city residents to join to help and guide the city to help find the gaps that city services haven’t been able to fill.  Instead of waiting for people to volunteer, she’s going to send city workers into more communities to recruit people to pitch in.  She also believes the city needs to do a better job in capitalizing city growth.

However, she acknowledges there could be a big problem when it comes to caring for homeless people in the city.  She voiced her concerns about the closing of The Road Home shelter, and hoped the state would keep it open as an overflow facility.  Even with the completion of the three new resource centers, Mendenhall says she’s sure that things will get worse when more storms come in.

“We will be short on beds at the homeless resource centers, and people would be turned away,” she says.

Recently, 17 people were arrested after a clash with city police.  Protesters say there isn’t enough room for everyone in need at the new centers, while police say there were dozens of beds available and that people in the Washington Square camp simply refused to go.  Mendenhall believes better technology can improve transparency at the centers.

She says, “Whether it’s a website or an app, some way that the service providers throughout the system can update, regularly, what that bed availability is so that we’re all seeing the same numbers at the same time.”