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John Daley reportingFrank Pignanelli Candidate for Mayor: "YOU SAID MAIN STREET WOULD BE THE FOCUS OF YOUR ADMINISTRATION. IF IT HAS BEEN THE FOCUS OF YOUR ADMINSTRATION, THEN YOU HAVE FAILED."
Rocky Anderson Salt Lake City Mayor: "WE HAVE MADE HUGE PROGRESS."
The Mayor and his main challenger tangle over Main Street.
The question: Are things better there than four years ago?
The state of Main Street is quickly becoming the main issue, in what's very quickly becoming a heated race for the office of Salt Lake City Mayor.
Challenger Frank Pignanelli issued a sharply-worded attack on the downtown revitilization efforts of Mayor Rocky Anderson today, just as the race heads toward the heart of campaign season.
You could call it a tale of two cities. Mayor Rocky Anderson says downtown Salt Lake is a vibrant place--that his administration has breathed life into downtown and he can prove it. But Challenger Frank Pignanelli says there's no success story there. He says the mayor has not done enough.
For years, many American cities have struggled to reinvigorate their downtowns. And for years, mayoral elections have turned on the issue of downtown prosperity.
Challenger Frank Pignanelli believes public perceptions about downtown are critical to his campaign, and today he fired a verbal shot at the Mayor's record.
Frank Pignanelli Candidate for Mayor: "THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT BEEN A GOOD STEWARD FOR MAIN STREET."
Pignanelli says too many downtown businesses have closed. Not enough new ones have opened and efforts to liven up the city have fallen flat.
He says he'll take steps to grow the number of people living downtown, re-establish a good relationship with state government, add a business advocate position to the Mayor's office, and have a new downtown plan within 100 days of taking office.
Frank Pignanelli, Candidate for Mayor: "THERE IS NO ON-GOING VISION, THERE'S NO LONG TERM STRATEGIC PLAN IN THERE. HE HAS FAILED IN HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISES OF FOUR YEARS AND HE HAS FAILED IN HIS ABILITY AS MAYOR TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER FOR A LONG-RANGE PLAN."
But the mayor challenges anyone to look at his record.
He says among other things, he's brought in more than 20 new businesses, created over 300 street level parking spaces, brought outdoor cafes and more nightlife, and improved the office occupancy rate so it's better than in the suburbs.
Rocky Anderson Salt Lake City Mayor: "WE'VE BEEN FOLLOWING THE PLANS. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PLANS ALREADY. WE DON'T NEED TO WAIT FOR A NEW MAYOR TO COME IN AND WAIT A HUNDRED DAYS FOR A PLAN. WE'VE GOT THOSE PLANS IN PLACE. WE'VE BEEN EXECUTING AND THINGS ARE ON A VERY, VERY POSITIVE TRACK."
Peter Berntsen owned Main Street's Globe Cafe. He says rather than help his business survive, the city poured money into luring new businesses downtown, and the Globe recently closed.
Peter Berntsen, Owner/Globe Cafe: "I'M SUPPORTING FRANK RATHER THAN ROCKY BECAUSE ROCKY STRAIGHT UP LET US DOWN. AS A POLITICIAN, A MAYOR, A BUSINESSMAN, WHEN YOU GIVE SOMEONE A WORD YOU DON'T GO BACK ON IT. ROCKY WENT BACK ON HIS WORD MORE THAN ONE TIME."
Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City Mayor: "WE TRIED TO HELP PETE OUT AT THAT GLOBE CAFE. BUT IF YOU LOOKED AT THEIR FINANCIALS, THERE WAS NO WAY THEY WERE GOING TO MAKE IT"
Pignanelli is hoping he's found an issue that will resonate with voters and help him close that gap.