• Billy Palmer

An Unlikely Backstory

Updated: Jul 27

My story is an unlikely one. I was born on the Westside of Salt Lake City and raised by a single mother in a mixed-race family of six. My family endured deep poverty and experienced both evictions and homelessness several times during my childhood. Thanks to NeighborWorks and their YouthWorks program, I was given my first job in high school (the job title was "Community Builder"), but it was a greater fight than I realized at the time. I was given the skills and the confidence in myself necessary to succeed. Perhaps more importantly, YouthWorks inspired me to give back to my community, which I have continued to do alongside my professional work.

Throughout unlikely career paths, I have found ways to bring art, production, community and advocacy to my work, culminating in my five-year run hosting and producing RadioActive, a public affairs program on KRCL where I also served as Director of Community Engagement. The radio show led me to study and immerse myself in a wide range of topics and issues that impact our city, our community, and our state. Most importantly, it was an opportunity to amplify the voices from our community and elevate the issues that matter to the Westside of Salt Lake City.

For years, I have been deeply involved throughout our Westside neighborhoods of Glendale, Poplar Grove, and Fairpark, working on local issues and citywide policies that impact our neighborhoods. Some of this public service includes:

  • Westside Master Plan Steering Committee (2011-2012), a process that outlined a vibrant future for the Westside.

  • SLC Community Development Capital Improvement Program Citizen Advisory Board (2012-2017), where I represented District 2.

  • Glendale Community Council (2016-2019), serving in various leadership roles.

These public positions are just a small part of the work I've devoted to our community. While some of my work has been widely known community projects, like the 2013 Sandlot & the Sandlot event, much of it has been known only to those who I have worked alongside. I've pushed the city to make repairs and improvements in the Peace Gardens and Jordan Park. I ensured the Sorenson Multicultural Center had a new HVAC system and backup generator. I fought for the TRAX line to run down North Temple (originally it was planned to use existing rail lines along the Union Pacific routes). These were important investments in our Westside that did not come on their own. We had to fight for them.

These are the reasons I am now running for City Council: to continue empowering our community, building bridges across our city, and amplifying voices from our Westside neighborhoods. There are a many issues that impact our neighborhoods that voters will need to consider, but I'm also asking voters to look at the backstories behind all the candidates. Mine is certainly an unlikely story and it's one that informs how I will serve our community on the City Council—just like I've done for much of my life.

That history matters. Relationships matter. Representation matters.


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