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Bob Marley for mayor

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

People voting in the mayoral election last fall had their choice of two of the formative figures of Park City’s modern era.

Dana Williams, the incumbent, had built his administration through a populist approach to government, finding favor with numerous segments of Park City. His challenger was Brad Olch, who had served three terms immediately before Williams and was widely seen as one of the architects of Park City’s rise to an internationally known mountain resort.

One of them, it seems, would have appealed to most of the electorate. But one voter apparently was not swayed by the politicking of the two. For that voter, there was only one person who could properly lead Park City for the next four years: Bob Marley, the late reggae legend whose canon includes some of the most enduring songs of the past four decades.

According to City Hall’s election officer, someone in the Deer Valley South precinct wrote in Marley’s name as their mayoral selection in an Election Day surprise. State election law, though, makes the ballot for Marley an unofficial write-in vote, meaning that an affidavit had not been filed beforehand declaring Marley a write-in candidate. He would not have qualified as a write-in candidate.

Marley’s one ballot placed him more than 1,200 votes behind Williams, who won a third term on Election Day and took his oath of office on Thursday. Olch, meanwhile, finished more than 500 votes ahead of Marley.

"Everyone knows Park City is the birthplace of reggae," Williams says in jest when talking about the write-in vote for Marley.

Williams says he has been a longtime fan of Marley, with a song called "Three Little Birds" being among his favorites. Williams, who sings and plays the guitar in a local rock ‘n’ roll outfit, covers a few Marley tunes with the band, including "Three Little Birds," with its famous "Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be all right" refrain.

"Certain messages he spoke about in his music are applicable today — oppression, overcoming obstacles," the mayor says.

Williams says he is attracted to the "human condition" that Marley sang about and the legend’s "message to step up." One of Marley’s best known songs is entitled "Get Up, Stand Up," and it has long been used as a call to activism.

"I think that’s had an effect on me since junior high school," Williams says, adding, "You have an obligation to step up and try to make something different, hopefully better."

The mayor surmises Marley’s vision for Park City would stress work force housing, environmentalism or sustainability and providing health coverage for the uninsured, topics that Williams himself has long supported.

"I always had a great respect for his political views," Williams says. "I did not grow up in Trenchtown, certainly did not grow up in an oppressed situation as he did."


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