Park City event serves as preliminary stop in 2017 campaign
Gathering designed to outline the mechanics of running for office
May 16, 2017
An event on Wednesday could serve as a preliminary stop for someone considering a campaign in Park City or the other municipalities in Summit County this year.
The Park Record and City Hall have partnered to present a seminar that is designed to offer potential candidates a rundown of election mechanics and tips about a campaign on the municipal level in Park City. It is planned in the weeks before the opening of the window when candidates must formalize their candidacies, running from June 1 until June 7.
The Park City mayor's office and the Park City Council seats held by Cindy Matsumoto and Tim Henney are on the ballot. Matsumoto has said she will not seek re-election while Henney intends to campaign for another term. The mayor's office and city council seats in communities on the East Side of Summit County are also on the ballot.
The event on Wednesday is expected to feature a roster of speakers with experience in Park City campaigns or those with roles in the upcoming election.
Brad Olch, who served three terms as the mayor starting in 1990, is expected to be one of the highlights as he discusses how campaigns in Park City changed over the years. He won mayoral elections in 1989, 1993 and 1997 before retiring from office in 2002. Olch unsuccessfully attempted to reclaim the mayor's office in the 2009 election.
"Obviously, the campaigns have changed a lot since the '80s," Olch said in an interview, noting the growth in Park City since then.
Olch recalled covering the entirety of Park City while door-to-door campaigning in the 1980s. But by his final campaign, the 2009 contest, he barely made it through Park City once while knocking on doors, he said as he described the growth. Olch said in-person campaigning remains important, though. He said some Parkites are not as engaged as the voters in the 1980s.
"Everybody knew everybody in the community. Everybody had a vested interest," Olch said, adding, "I don't see that today."
He also noted that the tenor of Park City campaigns has changed over the years and the amount of political contributions nowadays is "absurd." During the most recent mayoral campaign, in 2013, the candidates raised more than $80,000.
The campaign season does not officially start until the opening of the filing window on June 1, but there have been political moves already. Matsumoto's announcement that she would not seek re-election was pivotal since it removed an incumbent from the contest. A campaign could be more appealing to potential candidates without one of the incumbents on the ballot. Steve Joyce, a member of the Park City Planning Commission, has said he would campaign for the City Council.
There are no declared candidates for mayor. Jack Thomas, the incumbent first-term mayor, has not signaled whether he will seek re-election.
The event on Wednesday is expected to cover topics like candidate eligibility, campaign strategies and the life of an elected official. Speakers scheduled to address the seminar include two members of the City Council – Nann Worel and Becca Gerber – as well as Park City Attorney Mark Harrington and election officials at City Hall and the County Courthouse. Katie Eldridge, a public-relations figure, is also on the speaker list as is Rory Murphy, a former member of the Planning Commission who has unsuccessfully campaigned for the City Council.
Worel, a first-term City Councilor, remembered in an interview attending a seminar like the one scheduled on Wednesday before she decided to seek office. Worel said comments by Sally Elliott, who held elected positions in Park City and Summit County, were influential at the earlier seminar. The event served as "Campaign in Park City 101 for me," Worel said, describing the information as the "nuts and bolts of doing a local campaign."
"This session was really, really helpful in making my decision," she said, adding, "It gave me a better idea of what it would actually entail."
The seminar is scheduled on Wednesday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Miners Hospital.