Council candidates speak to the East Side
Candidates for Summit County Council didn’t disagree much Thursday about issues important to the East Side.
Some eastsiders think too much money is spent by the Summit County Commission, which disbands in December. Others believe development codes in eastern Summit County are unfair.
An audience of about 50 at Cattlemen’s Hall heard from 11 Summit County Council candidates at the roughly 90-minute forum. Voters will elect the first five-member Summit County Council to replace the commission after voters decided to change their form of government two years ago.
But the less traditional council/manager model requires hiring a county manager to oversee its executive branch.
"That person is going to have to be quite a unique individual," said Henefer resident Grant Richins, a Republican vying against Snyderville Democrat Claudia McMullin for council seat B.
The two candidates who said they have attended complete sessions of the commission recently when asked by Oakley resident Patrick Cone were Park City Republican Alison Pitt, Park City Democrat John Hanrahan and current Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott, a Democrat from Park City.
But Pitt called the daytime meetings inconvenient and said when the County Council needs public input she would require the board meet at night.
She is a self-described "fiscal conservative."
"I would try to keep costs down to a minimum," Pitt said.
She faces Basin Democrat Chris Robinson and Jeremy Ranch resident Gary Shumway, a member of the Constitution Party, in the race for seat D. The seat A race pits Elliott against Woodland Republican Bill Miles, who lost campaigning against Democratic County Commissioner Bob Richer in 2006.
Oakley resident Matt Leavitt asked if changing the form of government will cost more for taxpayers. A big issue on the minds of eastsiders is how much councilpersons and the manager will earn.
The county manager’s position could demand an annual salary of roughly $130,000. But council candidate Steve Weinstein, a South Summit Democrat, said he’ll work for $1.50 per year.
Initially councilors could earn almost $35,000 plus benefits.
"The cost of the salary for the county manager is the only significant cost (increase,)" Elliott said.
But Basin Democrat John Hanrahan, who is competing against Parkite Republican Tom Hurd for seat C, said taxpayers will easily recoup those costs.
"County managers in other counties have saved the counties’ budgets by doing their job efficiently," Hanrahan said.
Meanwhile, Hurd said money to buy open space shouldn’t come from tax coffers.
"I live in Park City, don’t hold it against me," Hurd joked, adding that he would represent the entire county as a councilperson, not just the West Side.
Retired state lawmaker David Ure, who represented Park City in the House of Representatives, said he has the most experience with water laws and making sure the county continues the thrive on tourism dollars.
In the race for seat E he is up against Weinstein who says his lack of government experience brings a fresh perspective the county politics.
However, Ure explained that "tourism brings a lot of money for both sides (of the county.)"
Miles said he is in the race against Elliott to make government more transparent.
"I’m a little frustrated with the openness of county government," Miles said.
With eastsiders demanding a say in how the Eastern Summit County General Plan and Development Code reads, Democrat McMullin acknowledged the existing planning rules are too strict.
"What I hear is a lot of frustration and a lot of anger over the restrictive nature of your development code," McMullin told the crowd.
Shumway, who is the only third-party candidate in the race, doesn’t want people to vote just for their favorite political party.
"One of the reasons I’m running is to get a different perspective," Shumway said. "We need more people involved in the political process I don’t have any special agenda and it’s really up to you."
His opponent, Robinson, touts his experience ranching and running a real-estate business as reasons to put him in office.
"I also understand land use," Robinson said.
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