I just got done with a long and interesting conversation with Salt Lake City’s hard-charging mayor, Rocky Anderson. If you haven’t been following the guy, check out this remarkable article in The Nation. Prepare to have your accustomed-to-bad-news socks knocked off.
Since his election in 1999, he’s implemented a comprehensive plan to green the city and meet Kyoto emissions targets (actually, SLC has already far exceeded the targets, six years ahead of schedule). He’s pushed the development of bus and light-rail public transit, zoned for dense, multi-use development, created miles of new bike paths, and vastly improved pedestrian and bike safety. That’s just the green stuff — he’s also done incredible things in reforming the judicial system and taking on the Drug War, increasing minority representation in gov’t, opening up gov’t to transparency and accountability, and taking President Bush to the cleaners in one of the most amazing anti-war speeches I’ve ever seen.
He’s won over the business community, and was re-elected by a huge margin. He’s won awards out the wazoo. And he’s done this without ever trimming his sails or triangulating — in fact, he’s widely known for his brutal, refreshing frankness. (When he yanked SLC police out of the D.A.R.E. program, he told that program’s officials, "I think your organization has been an absolute fraud on the people of this country …")
This, remember, in the heart of the reddest state in the union, which gave Bush the highest margin of victory in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, and still gives him higher approval ratings than any other state.
At the end of his term, he plans on leaving government and focusing on grassroots organizing around human rights and climate change.
The interview will run in a couple of weeks.