Fans want Olch to return to politics
People for at least the last year have urged former Mayor Brad Olch to campaign for the mayor’s office in 2009, Olch acknowledged on Monday, but he has thus far rejected the suggestions to return to Park City politics.
The interest by his supporters, even with Olch currently not intending to campaign, provides more clues that next year’s contest will likely be a competitive affair four years after Mayor Dana Williams ran unopposed for a second term.
Nearly seven years after Olch left office after three terms as the mayor, he remains one of Park City’s best-known political names.
Olch served as mayor from early 1990 until early 2002, with accomplishments during his administration including widening City Hall’s heralded open-space program and planning for the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was the mayor during one of Park City’s most significant growth periods.
Olch said in an interview he is flattered and surprised that people, "quite a few, actually," according to Olch, have approached him about a campaign in 2009.
"I truly don’t have any interest . . . at this point, I don’t," Olch said.
Williams has not disclosed whether he will seek another term in 2009. A taxi driver, Diania Turner, recently declared she will campaign in 2009, and Shauna Kerr, a former Park City Councilor and onetime member of the Summit County Commission, has indicated she is considering a mayoral bid.
Candidates cannot file formal campaign papers until mid-2009. If more than two people seek the office, City Hall would hold a primary to cut the field to two. The winner on Election Day would be sworn into office in early 2010. Two City Council positions — held by Jim Hier and Roger Harlan — are also on the ballot in 2009.
Olch, who is 57 years old, lives in Sandstone Cove and has lived in Park City since 1976. He sat on the Park City Planning Commission and the City Council before winning the mayor’s office. Two of his mayoral campaigns — his 1989 win against Ann MacQuoid and his 1997 defeat of Nikki Lowry — are regarded as being among the toughest of Park City’s modern era.
The demeanor of the 1997 campaign was a reason why Olch did not seek a fourth term, he said. That year’s campaign unfolded as City Hall prepared to introduce a controversial paid-parking system in the Main Street district and in the months after a highly contentious round of talks about the development that would later become Empire Pass.
Since leaving office, Olch has retreated from politics. He said he has attended two City Council meetings in the last six years — to listen to discussions about the City Hall budget and about a stoplight that was later installed at the S.R. 224-Meadows Drive intersection.
He said he would require a compelling reason to commit to a mayoral campaign, but Olch did not provide details about what could influence him to re-enter politics.
He declined to discuss comments he is receiving about conditions in the city government. In a recent interview about her consideration of a mayoral campaign, Kerr said City Hall sources have told here morale is down.
Olch, meanwhile, said he hopes younger people campaign in 2009, observing there have been few young Parkites who have become influential in the city government.
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