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Christian Harrison withdraws from Salt Lake mayoral race during candidate filing period

Christian Harrison withdraws from Salt Lake mayoral race during candidate filing period

(Katie McKellar, KSL)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Christian Harrison, former chairman of the Downtown Community Council, announced Tuesday that he is withdrawing his name from the Salt Lake City mayoral race.

Harrison is now endorsing David Garbett, former executive director of Pioneer Park Coalition who launched his campaign in February, after he said the "path to victory narrowed for smaller candidates" like himself.

"The landscape has changed in the last few months and the best path forward for my vision is to join my friend David Garbett in his bid for mayor of Salt Lake City," Harrison said.

The deadline to file for candidacy is Friday, with three people so far turning in the official paperwork: state Sen. Luz Escamilla, Garbett and retired engineer Rainer Huck, according to Nicole Smedley, Salt Lake's records and elections assistant city recorder.

Harrison said there is “a great deal of overlap” between him and Garbett pertaining to issues related to transportation, affordable housing and homelessness.

"David and I share a great deal of vision on the central role that transportation plays in creating amazing urban environments and amazing world-class neighborhoods and cities. We share a vision regarding the role that affordable housing plays in that same space,” Harrison said.

He noted that the two worked together for a few years on issues surrounding homelessness.

Garbett said one of the last projects they worked together on was an effort to bring more amenities to Pioneer Park and draw more crowds.

Harrison said he made the decision to withdraw and support Garbett over the weekend. He said the two met over breakfast last Saturday and decided it was the “best way forward.”

"I joined this race because I believed my vision for Salt Lake City was not only good but necessary. That our best future depended on making some fundamental shifts in the way we ran our city," Harrison said.

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Harrison said that he had two choices — to "selfishly" power forward through the primary and become a "spoiler" for a candidate like Garbett, who shares his vision, or support Garbett's bid.

"I don’t think I had the resources to make it through the primary, so instead I decided to pull out … so that I could help David with his bid," Harrison said.

Garbett is "excited" to have Harrison's support and to work with him on issues pertaining to transit, housing affordability and homelessness.

"It's huge. I'm very excited about it. I really appreciate Christian and his support. I think that Christian and I have very similar ideas about the city, and I'm so pleased that he's going to be helping me to try and accomplish those given that this is such a crowded field," Garbett said.

Garbett said he'll be using Harrison's help when thinking of new ideas of policy.

The mayor's chair is up for grabs after Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced three months ago she was withdrawing from the race due to a "serious and complex family situation."

Others who have said they are running for mayor include former state Sen. Jim Dabakis, freelance journalist Richard Goldberger, businessman David Ibarra, military veteran Aaron Johnson, Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall and former Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold.

According to the City Attorney's Office official website, candidates must file in person at the City Recorder's Office by Friday afternoon. Primary elections will be held Aug. 13 and the general election is Nov. 5.

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Kim Bojórquez

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