The Low Road
Politics can be a messy business, but when attacks go personal it gets ugly. For weeks, certain people have repeatedly attacked me for my faith, implying that I would take orders from the LDS Church if elected mayor. I have not commented on these attacks until now because I did not want to dignify these desperate tactics. However, news coverage and social media have kept this issue part of the conversation surrounding the mayoral election. As such, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on these attacks.
First, my record speaks for itself. During my 11 years in the Utah State Senate, I have always placed the interests of my constituents at the center of what I do. My education and professional background have always led me to make decisions based on evidence and relevant data. To suggest that I would suddenly become a puppet or a pawn flies in the face of my record and I find it insulting. I have always been and will always be an independent voice for the people I represent. As mayor, I will place the interests of Salt Lake City and its residents first. Period.
Second, my moral compass does not begin and end with where I worship; it is far broader and more complex than that. When it comes to women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, alcohol, medical cannabis and a whole host of issues where the LDS Church has taken a position, my record shows I have voted for and against bills contrary to the LDS Church's position. I have also worked with the LDS Church, along with leaders from other faiths, on other issues to find common ground, build consensus, and align their interests with those of the people I represent. An example of this collaboration can be seen in the work I helped lead on issues of immigration, such as the Utah Compact.
Third, these attacks are without merit, based on bigotry, and have no place in our politics. The latest “evidence” is online hearsay that an LDS Church official sent an email to members of the LDS Church instructing them to vote for me. In all the posts, we have never seen the actual email. However, our understanding is that the email was sent months ago during the primary by a former church official who sent the email to his own personal contacts expressing his support under his own name. In no way could this be considered a statement from the LDS Church itself. It’s a reach and a desperate attempt to justify an attack that is based not in fact, but in bigotry.
Offering no evidence whatsoever, to claim I would do the bidding of the LDS Church is offensive to me not only as a member of that faith, but as a woman. I have my own brain capable of making my own decisions, my own conscience capable of determining my own positions, and my own voice to speak my mind. While running for President nearly 60 years ago, John F. Kennedy faced similar attacks about his ability to lead as a Catholic without influence from the Roman Catholic Church. To echo his words: “I do not speak for any church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me” (read JFK’s speech HERE).
To be clear, I am running for mayor not for my church or even for myself. I am running for the people of our great city. I have a vision for our city (read it HERE) and have the experience as an executive, as a manager, as a leader to put plans into action. I will work with residents, community leaders, nonprofits, the business community, and, yes, I’ll work with the LDS Church along with leaders from other faiths or no faith to make progress for our city and its residents.
For those perpetuating these attacks, I question their motives. As a woman of color who speaks with an accent, I have encountered undue criticism and double standards before. I have seen unfair treatment resulting from bias, prejudice, bigotry, and hate. I have also seen mudslinging in politics when people have their own agendas, want a distraction, or are just trying to stay relevant. It may be professional self-interest. Perhaps it’s a personal grudge. Whatever the actual motivation may be, it’s clear that those launching these attacks have abandoned reason and facts for bigotry and conspiracy theories.
Worst of all, these attacks obfuscate what’s really important in this election. We have serious challenges and incredible opportunities in Salt Lake City. This election should be focused on the issues that make a difference in the lives of Salt Lake City residents and the direction we want for our city’s future. I ask that voters base their decision on where I stand on those issues, my vision for our city, my record, my experience, and my reputation.
As for these bigotry-based attacks, Salt Lake City voters tend to take the high road and will see through those who take the low road. Of this, I have faith.