A new year conversation with Draper’s mayorJan 20, 2021 10:13AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Mayor Troy Walker is sworn in for his second term as Draper’s mayor. Walker accepted a council-led decision to increase his salary. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
Troy Walker became mayor in 2014 with the theme of moving the city “forward.” After seven years in the position, 2020 brought entirely different challenges for the city. The following is a telephone interview the Draper Journal had with Walker mid-January regarding his thoughts on the year behind us and the year to come.
Q: Any update on vaccinating city employees, specifically first responders such as fire department and police personnel?
A: They’ve already had access to vaccinations, the first responders. We don’t have any control over the vaccination, it’s not anything we’re in charge of. It’s at a state and county level.
Q: Do you have plans to be vaccinated when it’s offered to you?
A: Yes, I’m going to be (soon) because I’m on the Lone Peak Hospital Board of Trustees. I’ll get the Moderna vaccination.
Q: You made a statement in November that you personally knew of more than 200 people who’ve had the virus to varying degrees. Can you give me an update on that number and your thoughts as we’re this close to the vaccine but with cases skyrocketing?
A: It’s obviously increased. I kind of stopped counting because it was getting hard to keep track in my mind. Almost everyone in my law office has gotten it. I somehow managed not to get it. I don’t know how I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve been around it a ton.
Q: City Hall reopened this week with limited hours of 10 a.m. to noon daily. Any idea when regular business hours might resume or plans different than the two hours each day?
A: We’ll keep it like this until the county says we’re in the situation where case counts start to kick down. I keep thinking they will, but they seem to hover around high or going up. I know (Salt Lake County) Mayor (Jenny) Wilson is concerned about the new strain, it’s more contagious. It seems like the stress level is not going down. I will say that most of the people I know who’ve had it recently, it’s been pretty mild, a couple days of symptoms. I haven’t had a friend or relative or colleague that’s gotten super ill from it.
Q: Will you be doing your annual State of the City speech, and if so, would you give a preview of your talking points?
A: I hope so. I’m looking forward to it. I’m probably going to talk primarily about the alternatives analysis for transit going forward, heading to the south. UTA has made some presentations and the city council will vote on a recommended alternative. It’s a big departure from what we’ve normally done. The normal concept has been light rail. We’re now looking to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which is markedly less expensive and more doable, but it’s a change from what everyone has thought was going to happen from the current end of the line down to Adobe and south. The preferred alternative skips that. It goes from Front Runner through the prison site, hits Pluralsight and UTA’s corridor, so it really skips the residential part of Draper. It’s a fundamental shift in what we’ve been doing and thinking. It’s BRT, not light rail.
Q: Shifting to a national scale, it was one year ago (last February) that you were a guest of Ben McAdams at the State of the Union address held in the Capitol. When you saw what happened there (on Jan. 6), having visited that building and members of Congress one year ago, what were your thoughts?
A: My, how everything has changed in a year. It’s terrible. There’s nothing much you can say. They trespassed, committed battery and assault, there’s no excuse for it. It’s against the law and they should be prosecuted, everyone involved. I don’t condone it. I understand people are frustrated and scared, but that doesn’t excuse people from common law-abiding decency.
Q: Regarding The Point, you’re continuing to serve on both the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority and The Point of the Mountain Development Commission. Were you part of the process to select the master planning firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill?
A: No, but I participated in accepting the contract. It was a great presentation. It looked to me like they know what they’re doing and they have a lot of experience with large projects. I was very impressed with their presentation to the board.
Q: Can you give an update on pursuing Ranked Choice Voting for our city’s elections?
A: I support that. I hope the council adopts that. I think it’s a good thing.
Q: Anything else happening in the city that you’d like residents to know?
A: We’re doing the Draper Deals again with CARES Act funding, launching a second round. I don’t have a sense of when COVID will subside. I think vaccines are moving forward. I think our outlook is good. Our economy is doing better than I thought it would. I thought we’d be in an economic collapse, but residents have done a good job supporting local businesses. I do think preferred alternative for transit going forward is a big deal. It gets a plan in place we can well afford and that is feasible. The housing market is as tight as it’s ever been. The scarcity of homes to buy is unprecedented. We just don’t have enough housing for people.
I’m excited, I think we have a great outlook as far as our city goes. As long as our country can stay together and continue to function, I think we’re in good shape. I hope we can get to a level where we can start working together on the national political level. At the local level, we do really well. I didn’t vote for Joe Biden but I wish him the best. I think he has the best interest of the country in mind. I’m excited for Gov. Cox—he’s young…smart and energetic. I think we have a lot of good things going for us in Utah. Also, I was appointed by (former) Gov. Herbert to the Peace Officers Standard and Training Council that oversees discipline. We’re talking about police reform and I’m interested in seeing how they’re currently doing it. It might give some ideas of things we could do better. And I was just named chairman of the Pete Suazo Utah Athletic Commission that regulates combat sports.