Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
WEST JORDAN — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson proclaimed the county is resilient and "stronger together" when people collaborate to tackle issues.
"The state of our county remains strong. I believe as a community, and with teamwork, we will continue to thrive. I look to 2023 as a chance to rebuild and rediscover our strengths," Wilson said. "I challenge all of you to be a part of the county's success. This is your county."
Wilson gave the State of the County speech Monday evening at the Viridian Library in West Jordan. She started off describing how Salt Lake County "bounced back" from the pandemic in tourism and boasts a low unemployment rate and high success of small businesses.
"As we enter 2023, Salt Lake County remains one of the best counties in the nation to live, work and raise a family. The evidence is clear," Wilson said.
Wilson said she is proud Salt Lake County is able to host events bringing in people from around the nation, including this month's return of the Outdoor Retailer Show, the ongoing Sundance Film Festival and the upcoming NBA All-Star game in February.
"I am looking forward to the sights, the fun and energy that will flood downtown Salt Lake," Wilson said about All-Star Weekend.
Wilson acknowledged during her speech the loss of more than 1,800 family members, friends and neighbors in Salt Lake County because of COVID-19. She praised the "tireless" work of the health department and said she is proud of county residents for being resilient and for supporting each other during that difficult time.
Investments in economic development, senior centers, recreation, arts, park and libraries are the "foundation to our quality of life here in our county," Wilson said.
But there are still challenges Wilson hopes to tackle in this upcoming year.
"Too many families and small businesses are still struggling to make ends meet. Too many children still wonder when their next meal will be served. Too many residents are still unable to afford a home of their own. And too many of our neighbors still feel unwelcome," Wilson said. "Side by side with you, I will continue to work to assure that Salt Lake County becomes a better, more fair, more prosperous, and more inclusive community than ever before."
The mayor described investments the county is making in affordable housing, the biking and hiking trail system, water conservation projects, senior centers, workforce development programs and protecting nature.
"Our valley is blessed with stunning landscapes and access to recreation. Let's protect these vital areas," she said in reference to the investment in the Open Space Trust Fund.
Wilson said she is "very encouraged" by the progress the county has made, but she is looking forward to more collaboration with the community to improve health outcomes, refine the criminal justice system and address homelessness. By working together across the community, issues can be more easily solved, she said.
Division is "the most poisonous issue we face" in politics and in our neighborhoods, Wilson said. She encouraged everyone to not forget to "pack your patience" and "put kindness to your neighbors first."
The mayor announced a new countywide book club that she is implementing to help unite the county. The first book as part of this initiative is — in conjunction with the upcoming NBA All-Star Weekend — "Basketball: A Love Story," by Jackie MacMullan, Rafe Bartholomew and Dan Klores.
"Individually we are all important and we make our mark, but together we are always stronger. Salt Lake County can be our own 'love story,' I know it's mine," she said.
A discussion for the book will be held during All-Star Weekend, the mayor said, and she hopes everyone will read and enjoy the book.
"Salt Lake County is and will continue to be, a shining example to the rest of the nation, and I will continue to do my very best to put plans in motion that unify, celebrate, and honor all that we are," Wilson said.