Park City citizens should take pride in the fact that all of the candidates running to represent them on the council and as mayor are highly qualified and motivated by their genuine interest in serving the community. And they have all expended a huge amount of energy in trying to earn your vote.
Moreover, during the course of the campaigns clear differences in style and priorities have emerged among the candidates, which means Tuesday's outcome will have a significant impact on the city's will future.
In the Mayor's race:
Andy Beerman's youth (he is 44) and relative lack of experience in elected office (he has served only half a term on the city council) are both his strengths and weaknesses. Some residents have been justifiably alarmed by his clarion call for economic development which could, if not carefully harnessed, overshadow efforts to preserve the city's small-town ambiance. His lack of political savvy, however, is counterbalanced with optimism and civic involvement. As a former leader of the Main Street Merchants Association and as a council member, as well as an avid participant on countless boards and committees, Beerman has exhibited an abundance of energy and accessibility.
Jack Thomas (who is 67) exhibits a more reserved demeanor. He has a proven record of thoughtful input and carefully researched decisions on the Park City Planning Commission where he has been a respected commissioner for eight years. His strong allegiance to the city where he was raised and his expertise as an architect who has worked on many local projects are also valuable traits. However, at times, his reluctance to define his positions, notably declining to comment on looming developments like Treasure and Bonanza Park, has drawn criticism.
Both have already made enormous contributions to the community, but for the mayor's post, we believe with his energetic, outgoing personality, Beerman would be a better ambassador and has our endorsement. Over the last several years he has been a constant presence at community events, mixing easily with the town's diverse social segments and showing a genuine concern for all of their needs. Also, between the two mayoral candidates, Beerman has the greatest potential to energize Park City's upcoming generation of leaders.
Thomas, however, would be a tremendous asset on the council. If Beerman succeeds in winning Tuesday's election, and vacates his seat on the council, it would be a win for all if Thomas applied for and was appointed to the council for the remaining two years of Beerman's term.
In the City Council race:
Incumbent Park City Council member Alex Butwinski has earned the respect of city staff, administrators and citizens for his diligence and consistency. He has also developed an important relationship with the state legislature and has earned our endorsement. But we would encourage him to heed the message, heard over and over during the campaign, that middle-class Parkites fear they are losing their foothold in the city. Butwinski has been a strong advocate for economic development during his tenure but he needs to ensure he is encouraging the types of businesses that will foster a strong middle class.
Tim Henney's legacy as a trails and open space advocate is well established. His love of Park City's environment along with his sophisticated financial resume is a rare combination, one that has helped the city and county preserve huge swaths of open space and create miles of hiking and biking trails. Though he is untested as an elected official, it is likely that Henney, who has worked with diverse stakeholders, would prove to be a good mediator, a wise financial counselor and would continue to emphasize the city's role as a steward of the environment. Henney has also earned our endorsement.
Cindy Matsumoto truly represents the city's middle-class citizens and has been a stalwart representative of their needs while serving on the council. As a political novice, she has rarely stepped forward in a leadership role, but has been a consistent champion for families, small businesses and historic preservation, and it is likely that many citizens have felt more comfortable coming forward because of her presence. But, due to the complexity of the issues facing the city, the council needs a more independent voice in that important leadership role.
Mary Wintzer has provided a clear voice for a constituency that is deeply worried about the city's future. If elected, she would undoubtedly stand up to city staff, developers and fellow council members by asking tough questions about the challenges facing our once-small town. She has been a consistent opponent of many recent development projects, a proponent of historic preservation and is vocal about the dangers of caving in to economic-development pressures that benefit a few at the expense of many. A voice like hers is definitely needed at City Hall today.
Our admiration for Wintzer, though, is overruled by our concerns about her diplomatic skills. We applaud her courage in taking on unpopular causes, but worry about her ability to offer alternatives and to bring opposing sides together. Wintzer's presence on the council would stimulate valuable debate but could also lead to bitter divisions like those that stymied previous councils. Wintzer is more suited to the role of a dissident than an elected official.
The ideal outcome, in our view, would be: Beerman as mayor, with Butwinski, Henney, and Thomas on the council, joining Liza Simpson and Dick Peek, who were not up for re-election this year.
On Tuesday, Park City's 5,412 registered voters have the enviable opportunity to choose the candidate whose platform is most closely aligned with their own vision of the city's future. It has been an active campaign season and now it is up to you. Get out and vote!