Out with the Old, in with the New. Rocky has moved on to other things, and Ralph Becker is now mayor of SLC.
A grateful adieu to Rocky. The pugnacious and passionate mayor really earned my respect for his vision and determination to improve the quality of life in SLC and to stand for principle over the course of his administration.
No, Rocky isn’t a perfect human being. We’ve all heard the news reports about turnover in his office. I’ve had the chance to meet several people who have worked in his administration and in politics. Rocky is apparently incredibly demanding. He is abrasive, even abusive, with his subordinates as well as those who oppose his agenda. I’m disappointed that he has hurt several people who supported him, and do not endorse such behavior. Everyone deserves to be treated civilly, and those who are helping you deserve respect. It is disappointing that he couldn’t find a way to nurture those who rallied around him.
Many of my faith criticized him as anti-Mormon. Those accusations are groundless; he fought against over-zealous conservative members who sought to take advantage of the power of the LDS Church to exert unrighteous dominion over the rest of the population. But that is not the same thing as persecution. I felt he handled the Main Street Plaza situation, bungled by the lawyers of the city and church, as fairly as he could.
Whatever his flaws, he deserves respect for his accomplishments as mayor. He promoted a strong liberal agenda with zeal and enthusiasm, to great effect. He gave hope and a voice to the strong progressive element in SLC. He helped energize them. He fought the good fight against the intrusions of the legislature, as he did against those in the surrounding counties who selfishly placed their convenience over the environmental and social well-being of our communities. He aggressively promoted a reinvigoration of the SLC social and cultural scene. His administration made SLC a far greener city. He boldly encouraged some unorthodox yet very creative initiatives, such as the ban on bottled water (a move I wholehearted endorse; just pack a thermos and fill it for free!). He leaves the city in great condition for his efforts.
This was probably a good time for Rocky to step down. It seems that while firebrands are often critical to catalyzing great accomplishments (John Adams and the Revolution, Teddy Roosevelt and progressive trust-busting, Ralph Nader and the consumer protection movement), the effectiveness of their caustic methods may diminish with time. Better to leave at the top of his game than find himself impotent.
In leaving now, Rocky has handed the city over to a person who seems imminently capable of running with the baton handed to him. I’ve been impressed with Becker since my wife took a class from him. She shared stories of the ideas he’d shared, ones very similar to those I’d studied and admired. I was impressed by his entire campaign. And with only a few days past in his administration, he’s already begun to impress with his efforts to establish a domestic partnership registry (not a good as allowing true freedom of conscience regarding marriage, but the best he could do with our state legislature watching over his shoulder) and to greatly expand public transportation.
Best wishes to Rocky as he promotes our liberal agenda, and to Becker as he builds on the great foundation Rocky left.