SALT LAKE CITY — As state and local officials attempt to give a fresh start to the scandal-riddled Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake County officials have approved two nominations for the county’s seat on UTA’s new three-member governing board.
And they’re both familiar faces.
They include Draper Mayor Troy Walker, who has served on UTA’s board of trustees since 2012, and Laynee Jones, the former program director of the now-dissolved Mountain Accord, a stakeholder group that has now transformed into the Central Wasatch Commission to guide long-term decision-making in the central Wasatch Mountains.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and a nominating committee made up of a handful of County Council members and other local elected officials chose Walker and Jones out of a pool of seven applicants as the best qualified to represent Salt Lake County on UTA’s new governing board.
While the nominations drew praise, they also raised concern from some members on the Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday. Criticism also came Wednesday from critics of the Mountain Accord, which is currently embroiled in a lawsuit claiming violations of Utah open meetings laws.
Walker and Jones’ nominations come after the Utah Legislature passed SB136, a sweeping transportation bill that included a restructuring of UTA’s governance, requiring that its 16-member board of trustees be replaced with a full-time, three-member board by Nov. 1.
The restructuring is part of an effort to put UTA’s past controversies — including questionable land deals, extravagant executive pay and questions of transparency — to rest.
County Councilman Steve DeBry grappled with Walker and Jones’ nominations, though he lauded both of them for their time in public service and experience.
Addressing Walker, DeBry noted the Draper mayor’s history on UTA’s current board of trustees and wondered whether appointing him to UTA’s new board would accomplish the goal of giving the agency a fresh start.
“What came in my heart and mind when I learned you’re one of the candidates — it’s the past,” DeBry said.
“If we want a fresh start, fresh ideas without having bad optics, we don’t want to go around the barn again and come out the same door again with the same people,” DeBry added.
Walker didn’t respond to DeBry’s comments during Tuesday’s meeting, but he said in an interview Wednesday his experience on UTA’s board should be seen “actually as a plus.”
“I think I’ve been an agent of change,” Walker said. “I’ve advocated for the reforms we’ve made, supported …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News