Homelessness, inland port, air quality highlight first major Salt Lake City mayoral debate

This story originally appeared on deseret.com. Read it in its entirety here.

At times exchanging snarky, but good-natured jabs at one another and periodically drawing laughs or applause from the audience, the first major Salt Lake City mayoral debate Wednesday night put candidates through their paces on issues ranging from homelessness and housing to air quality and the inland port.

Seven out of eight candidates showed for Wednesday night’s debate, hosted by the Alliance for a Better Utah, a left-leaning governmental advocacy group, at the Salt Lake City Main Library, all vying to prove they’d be the best choice to replace Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski when she steps down at the end of the year.

All candidates except Rainer Huck (who dropped out last minute due to an asthma attack, according to an Alliance for a Better Utah official), participated in the debate. A representative from Huck’s campaign, Abi Olufeko, took his place on the stage, where candidates spent two hours jockeying to win votes for the Aug. 13 primary.

Questions ranged on topics including how candidates will address a potential shortfall of homeless shelter beds once the Road Home’s downtown shelter shutters later this year, how they would increase the city’s affordable housing stock, where each stands on the controversial Utah Inland Port, and how each would address air quality in Utah’s capital.

A poll commissioned by Alliance for a Better Utah and released prior to the debate indicated former state Sen. Jim Dabakis is a likely frontrunner for the race, showing 27 percent of 480 likely Salt Lake City voters surveyed June 10-12 support him.

However, 34 percent of those poll respondents weren’t sure who to support — and support for other candidates was too close within the poll’s margin of error to delineate other frontrunners, according to the alliance.

This story originally appeared on deseret.com. Read it in its entirety here.

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