And they’re off
Traffic gridlock was on the minds of many who heard Thursday from candidates vying for five new Summit County Council seats.
"The traffic problems here on the West Side, especially in the wintertime, it’s bad," Hoytsville resident Doug Guest said in an interview after the political event. "[Candidates] were talking about the summertime but they didn’t say anything abut the wintertime. It’s a mess here in the wintertime."
Cars regularly jam in western Summit County and 10 candidates were asked at the town-hall style gathering how they would provide relief for drivers.
"Traffic is one of the huge deals in our county," said Basin Democrat Chris Robinson, who is campaigning for seat D.
Robinson faces Park City Republican Alison Pitt and Jeremy Ranch resident Gary Shumway, a member of the Constitution Party.
"I think we’re going to be forced to think outside the box," said Kamas Republican David Ure, who is vying against Kamas Democrat Steve Weinstein for seat E.
Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott, a Democrat in the race for seat A, said she has tried to champion more bus routes and light rail from Salt Lake City.
"You can tell me anything that you want to tell me and I will act on it," Elliott said, adding that she will only campaign for one more term.
Woodland Republican Bill Miles is challenging Elliott and said he is concerned about air pollution and congestion on State Road 224.
"I suppose [State Road] 248 is not too far behind it," Miles said.
Meanwhile, with eastern Summit County still primarily a rural area Pitt said how she might help unify those interests with the tourism-driven economy in Park City.
"I would try to encourage sustainable growth on both sides," Pitt said.
A current rift between county planners and East Side landowners has many eastsiders demanding looser zoning codes that allow them to earn money off the development of their land.
"This isn’t that diverse of county We are pretty much the same," said Silver Creek Democrat John Hanrahan.
Hanrahan is campaigning for seat C against Republican Parkite Tom Hurd.
"[Eastsiders do] not want to become the Snyderville Basin," Hurd countered. "Each area needs to be able to chart their own future."
About 60 people attended the meeting in Silver Springs sponsored by the Project For Deeper Understanding, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization.
The form of government in Summit County is slated to change from the three-person commission to a five-member council/manager next year and ushering in a smooth transition tops each candidate’s priority list.
The Summit County Council functions as the legislative branch and will hire a manager to oversee the government’s executive duties.
"I’ve seen a lot of changes and I want to be a part of the historic transition we are embarking on," Hurd said.
Basin Democrat Claudia McMullin insists a nationwide search is critical for filling the important manager post. She said she is also concerned about planning disputes on the East Side.
"You listen and you communicate and you don’t impose your values on them," McMullin said about resolving the disagreements.
She faces Henefer Republican Grant Richins in the contest for council seat B.
"We are going to make it good or make it bad," Richins said about the change.
But Shumway explained that the county also needs more "open government."
The third-party candidate pleaded with the crowd not to vote straight Republican or Democrat in November.
"Around 33 percent of Summit County voted straight party two years ago," Shumway said. "Vote for the person not the party."
Weinstein did not attend the event. His opponent, Ure, served Summit County for several years in the Utah House of Representatives.
"I’ve worked hard for tourism and also for open space," Ure told audience members. "I know what it’s like to be in leadership."
And county government needs more transparency, he added.
"Transparency and open government is the foundation [and] the thing that everything in this room is founded on," Ure said.
After the meeting Parkite Bob Winders said he better understood positions of the candidates.
"I know some of them but I didn’t know all of them," Winders said. "I haven’t made decisions but I think I learned a lot tonight. It was very interesting."
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