National politics may be veering off the rails but community is steadfast
November 11, 2016
Park City and western Summit County have long been political outliers in Utah. That was especially apparent in this year's election, where if Parkites had their way, Democrats Hillary Clinton, Misty Snow, Peter Clemens, Mike Weinholz, Rudi Kohler and Deana Froerer would be doing victory laps.
But that was not to be — at least, not this year. For now, the Republican Party will maintain its majorities in the U.S. House and Senate and the Utah Legislature. It will will keep the governor's mansion, and as an added bonus, will see its candidate ensconced in the White House.
In response to the election's outcome, most Parkites are downcast, some even fearful.
Over the course of his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump and his supporters vowed to dismantle many of the initiatives that our community holds dear: effective environmental practices, immigration reform, affordable healthcare, marriage equality, preservation of public lands and a more equitable distribution of federal and state tax burdens.
Driving the message home after his landslide win in Utah, U.S. Sen. Mike Lee promised to help Trump, "repeal Obamacare, return education to the states, reduce regulation, and confirm conservative judges."
Clearly, on the state and national levels, this election was a setback for Park City.
But, as Park City Council member Andy Beerman pointed out on Friday, our community's ideals are undaunted, and we can look to our local government and residents for positive examples.
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This year, the city and county launched a major effort to reduce energy consumption. Last week, local nonprofit organizations raised more than a million dollars to support education, the arts, health care, recycling and affordable access to recreation. And on Tuesday, residents overwhelmingly approved measures to improve public transit and to preserve open space.
It is also encouraging to note that the election margins between the Republican and Democratic candidates throughout this traditionally bright red state are shrinking. Even in small rural towns in southern Utah, citizens are beginning to worry about the effects of extractive industries on their air and water quality. They are also acknowledging that the National Parks and monuments have brought new opportunities and prosperity to their communities.
On other issues, too, Utahns are breaking with their conservative leaders. They have embraced marriage equality, criticized Trump's offensive rhetoric, welcomed refugees into their communities, elected an LGBT mayor and enthusiastically enrolled for Obamacare.
Parkites may be disillusioned by this election, but if they look more closely they will see that, while politicians are clinging to the past, their constituents are calling for progress.