Ex-mayor wants the job back | ParkRecord.com

Ex-mayor wants the job back

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Former Mayor Brad Olch will campaign for Park City’s highest office this year, saying he wants to return to City Hall eight years after not seeking re-election for a fourth term.

Olch’s entrance into the contest puts one of the most prominent figures of Park City’s skiing era into a campaign that, months before anybody can formalize their candidacy, has drawn more interest than the 2005 mayoral campaign. Mayor Dana Williams ran unopposed that year as he won a second term.

"I’ve been observing for a while. I think that with my experience, my years and years of experience, I’d like to put my name out there," Olch said in an interview.

Olch is the second person to declare themselves a candidate for the November election. Diania Turner, who owns the shuttle company Deep Powder Transportation, also has declared herself a candidate. Williams has not said publicly whether he will run for re-election. The filing window does not open until midsummer.

Olch was the mayor during the boom years of the 1990s, guiding Park City through the crucial growth debates of the era. He championed City Hall’s open-space program and was a chief figure in Park City’s efforts to host the 2002 Winter Olympics, being seated on the Salt Lake Organizing Committee’s board of trustees.

Olch served on the City Council and was a member of the city’s Planning Commission before becoming the mayor. He has largely remained out of City Hall politics for most of the time since leaving office. Olch, though, has attended some government meetings recently.

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He said he has not finalized an issues platform for the campaign. He wants to talk to regular Parkites before deciding which issues he will stress. Olch, though, said he is pleased with the performance of the local government.

"I’m not running against City Hall," Olch said.

If more than two people file candidate papers, a primary would be held to reduce the field to two for the November ballot. The winner will be sworn into office in January 2010. Two Park City Council seats — now held by Jim Hier and Roger Harlan — are also on the ballot.

Olch, 57, has lived in Park City since 1976. He lives in Sandstone Cove. He arrived in Park City as part of a wave of people from outside of Utah who settled in the area, drawn by the small-town mountain atmosphere of the time. They have largely enjoyed political, business and nonprofit success since then.

Olch declined to seek re-election in 2001, stepping aside as Williams and Fred Jones, then a City Councilman, engaged in a bitterly contested campaign made more dramatic by the Sept.11 terrorist attacks and the looming Olympics. Olch’s last mayoral campaign, in 1997, pitted him against Park City School District figure Nikki Lowry. He dismissed her after a bruising campaign.

There had been scattered talk in political circles for months that Olch was considering a campaign in 2009. In September, he told The Park Record supporters for at least a year had been urging him to seek the mayor’s office. At the time, though, he said in an interview he did not have an interest in a campaign. He said then he would require a compelling reason to re-enter politics and he indicated he hoped younger people would seek elected office.

Olch this week said he must introduce himself to the arrivals of the past eight years, a period of continued growth. He said he will trumpet his accomplishments in acquiring open space, expanding the municipal water supply, planning for the Olympics and preserving the historic nature of Old Town.

"I’m extremely proud. The simple answer is I left Park City a much better place than when I first became mayor," Olch said.