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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Youth members have dinner with the mayor

Oct 02, 2017 02:42PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Every year, the members of the Youth City Council have dinner with the mayor, council members and additional city staff members. (Dan Metcalf Jr./Cottonwood Heights)

Dinner with the Mayor is an annual event where all the members of the Cottonwood Heights Youth City Council (YCC) sit down with the mayor, council members and other city officials to converse over dinner. This year, the event was held on Aug. 29 in the new city hall community room. 

“This will be the last Dinner with the Mayor with Mayor Cullimore,” Youth City Council Mayor Nick said. 

The night began by passing around a mic so everyone could introduce themselves. All of the youth members included what position they held within the YCC, the school they were currently attending and what year they were in when they introduced themselves. Over 30 members of the YCC attended, including the YCC mayor, officers and their deputies. 

Sitting amongst the youth were various members of the city staff, including all four of the council members, the city manager, finance director, assistant fire chief, public works director, community and economic development director, public relations specialist, events coordinator, police chief, assistant city manager and city recorder.

As the youth and city staff members enjoyed their dinner of salad and pasta, with cheesecake and cookies for dessert, they mingled. Conversations covered various topics, including math class and differentiating honors classes, travels abroad, new business ventures within the city, future plans for youth members, student government, city sectors and, of course, the University of Utah and BYU feud. 

After dinner, the YCC mayor introduced Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore as he came forward to address the whole group. “How many of you know how the city was created?” he began. Only a few youth members raised their hands. 

“Cottonwood Heights became a city in 2005. Your advisor, Councilman Scott Bracken, was on the committee to create this city. We did a lot of work to educate the community on the benefits of incorporation. Before 2005, we were an unincorporated territory. Back then, we would stutter when someone asked where we lived, saying east, by Sandy, in Salt Lake. It wasn’t very definitive. Now, we have a sense of place.” 

Cullimore told the YCC that 85 percent of residents that voted, voted to “yes” to becoming a city. 

“One of the most important things we have done as a city is form a new school district,” Cullimore said, anticipating dropping some information that would directly affect the youth in the audience.

“Construction on Brighton High School will start in spring, if the current bond passes. The circled halls will be no more,” he said. There were mixed feelings from members in the audience. 

Cullimore then opened a Q&A session. He urged the youth to ask questions to the other city officials in the audience as well. 

“What are the benefits of rebuilding Brighton?” youth member Truman asked.

 “Brighton was built in 1969,” Cullimore answered. “It is not seismically up to code. There are issues associated with code and safety. Plus, it will provide some of new electrical technology.” 

Youth member Nicole then asked Cullimore what his plans were for retirement. 

He laughed and referred to something his wife told him earlier that week. “For over 13 years, Tuesday nights have been my wife’s night to do whatever she wants. She told me that I can come home on Tuesday nights but she’s going to do whatever she wants.”

“How do taxes here compare to other cities?” youth member Kathryn asked. 

City Manager John Park burst out in laughter. “He is so happy you asked that.” 

“Cottonwood Heights residents pay less of their disposable income in taxes than any other city in the state,” Cullimore said proudly.  

Kathryn asked Police Chief Robby Russo a question. “Where are the police hiding and where are the speed traps?” 

“We don’t hide very often,” Russo said, laughing. “You know, very little of what we do is law enforcement. We perform CPR, we are the first on the scene with a suicide, we talk to the family and help them through the experience. Relatively, we write very few tickets.”

Kathryn had a follow-up question. “How do I get out of a ticket?”

“I’ve never been talked out of a ticket,” Russo said. “But I have been talked into one many times. Officers don’t have their minds made up when they go up to the car. We ask you to keep your hands on the wheel because we don’t know who we are walking up on. Don’t ever tell an officer that they can’t do that. They will show you that they can. The purpose of a ticket is not to get revenue for the city, but to make people comply with laws and make the community safer.” 

“What is the crime rate in Cottonwood Heights?” Nicole asked.

“You are in a very safe city,” Russo replied. “We have a relatively low crime rate. We get a lot of thefts and frauds. The Cottonwood officers catch everybody. If you commit a crime here, you are going to jail.”

Cullimore closed the night after all the questions from the youth members had been answered. “We appreciate the work the YCC does. You are helping to make your community better.”