SALT LAKE CITY — David Garbett, the latest challenger to Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, officially launched his campaign as the seventh candidate in the mayoral race Tuesday outside the state Capitol.
The former executive director of Pioneer Park Coalition and former attorney for Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance for 10 years said his main priority is air quality.
"I live in a city where I am placing my two kids at risk of lifelong health effects because of our toxic air," Garbett said. "I have two daughters that really drive my decisions."
In December, he said his oldest daughter was sick and his wife took her to InstaCare where breathing tubes were administered. Doctors feared she would suffer lung damage, he said.
Garbett said his daughter’s experience is an example of why air quality needs to be addressed.
"Just because a problem is hard, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try — the stakes are way too high," he said.
If elected, Garbett said within his first year in office he will release a plan that will provide a roadmap on how to improve the city’s air. He also said he hopes to make the city carbon free and to have 100 percent clean electricity by 2023, adding that "it’s possible, it’s feasible and we owe it to our kids."
Garbett’s message for clean air resonated with supporters.
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"Our daughter has been sick, too, and to hear that story of their daughter really hit home for me," said Katy Miller, attendee of Garbett’s campaign launch.
Her husband, Chad Miller, said he appreciated that Garbett wasn’t an experienced politician.
"What sets David apart from some candidates is he’s not a professional politician so he feels grassroots and down to earth," he said.
Katy Miller agreed.
"We’re good friends. I just honestly feel like he is a genuine person. He genuinely wants to do all the things he said he’s going to do."
Jeff Robison, a pediatrician with Primary Children’s Hospital and 20-year friend of Garbett, introduced him at the event and said he appreciated the focus on air quality.
"He’s dedicated his adult and professional life to the cause of land conservation and air quality, and he would be the candidate in this race who would most effectively address one of the issues that I think is of key importance to all of us in Salt Lake City and that is our air quality," Robison said.
He also said he sees complications from air quality nearly every day in his practice as a pediatrician.
Other issues Garbett outlined were climate change, homelessness and affordable housing.
Garbett criticized Biskupski, saying she hasn’t cooperated with the Salt Lake City Council, the Legislature and other cities.
He also commented on the federal government, noting that Congress is "completely gridlocked," making local government even more important.
"Local government is a place where we can really drive change that affects people’s lives," he said.
He also emphasized the importance of embracing all Salt Lake City citizens.
"We know this inclusivity strengthens us," he said. "We need to be a city for everyone regardless of their income, their race, their gender, their politics or even their language. … Everyone is part of Salt Lake City."
Garbett, who is a Spanish-speaker, then shared this message of inclusivity in Spanish.
Other challengers in the 2019 nonpartisan race include former state Sen. Jim Dabakis, two-term City Councilman Stan Penfold and businessman David Ibarra.