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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson celebrated her first year in office this week by debuting a “County Conversations” podcast.
Wilson used the new platform to give her State of the County address, delving into homelessness, mental health, wage increases and population growth. Salt Lake County Council Chairman Max Burdick and Councilwoman Ann Granato also joined Wilson, updating constituents on their main policy concerns for 2020.
Wilson proposed starting a podcast in the fall and hopes to make “County Conversations” a weekly offering. The feedback has been positive, according to Chloe Morroni, spokeswoman for the mayor’s office.
“Why not start it with the State of the County?” said Morroni, who thinks a podcast is a far more engaging way to reach Wilson’s constituents. “People can’t necessarily stop what they’re doing and go to council chambers to listen to a speech.”
Morroni hopes that a weekly podcast will help Salt Lake County residents understand the scope of what the mayor’s office does.
“This is a really good way to to educate people on things that they might not know are available to them,” she said.
Although Wilson discussed other issues, housing and population were the focus of the first podcast. She said her team is “doubling down” on ways to keep Salt Lake County a desirable place to live.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in 2020 that doesn’t think about how growth is impacting their lives, in some way, in Salt Lake County,” Wilson said.
Burdick echoed the mayor’s concerns.
“With an aging population, fixed incomes and incredible growth, these challenges are not only going to stay with us, but they’re going to grow,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get ahead of it, but we can certainly keep up with it.”
Wilson also touched on the controversial Olympia Hills development, which the County Council will vote on in February. She applauded the revised plan that was submitted over the summer, calling it “much improved” over a previous proposal.
The podcast was recorded on Jan. 24, five days before the county hosted a public hearing in Herriman to gauge public support for Olympia Hills. Almost no one spoke out in favor of the development.
On Friday, Morroni told the Deseret News that Wilson is still in favor of a planned community, although her stance on the development’s details hinge on public opinion.
“That’s still a conversation,” said Morroni. “She’s evaluating public comments, which she’ll then use to formulate her official opinion.”
In the podcast Wilson said regardless of how the council votes on the development, the county needs a plan to handle the population boom along the Wasatch Front.
“We have such aggressive growth rates in Salt Lake County,” she said. “What we don’t want is sprawl.”