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Forum is the first chance for political fireworks

Sparks are flying on the campaign trail as local candidates prepare to face their opponents Thursday at a forum at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

The Project for Deeper Understanding, a nonprofit which formed almost four years ago, is sponsoring the event that begins Thursday at 7 p.m. at 4595 Silver Springs Drive. It will feature politicians vying for five seats on the new Summit County Council.

By increasing voter awareness Project for Deeper Understanding spokeswoman Nancy Garrison said she hopes to increase Election Day turnout in western Summit County.

"In this part of Summit County we have the majority of population yet the minority of voter turnout," Garrison said.

People in eastern Summit County traditionally turn out at a higher percentage than voters in Park City and the Snyderville Basin.

"I am embarrassed about that and I find it very disturbing because, myself, even being fairly apolitical, I have never missed an opportunity to vote since I became eligible," Garrison said.

Candidates will answer questions audience members submit on index cards, she said.

"The reason I would be there is because I never feel comfortable in the voting booth not understanding the issues or being familiar with the candidates," Garrison said.

The form of government in Summit County will change next year from a three-member county commission to a five-person county council with an appointed manager. The current Summit County Commission will disband in December.

"Everything from traffic to land use to services provided, those are all decisions we each have a vested interest in," Garrison said. "This is a great opportunity since we have a change of government for people to meet the wider variety of candidates We will have more elected officials representing us on the county level."

Still, voters seem most interested in the presidential race, she lamented.

"The one very strong political conviction that I have is that I believe that we are so fortunate when you look at the global political environment that we still are one of the few places in the world where we each have an opportunity to have a voice with a vote," Garrison said.

Candidates will take a minute for introductions before the League of Women Voters begins asking questions.

"There is two-way education going on here. One is for voters to learn about the candidates," Garrison explained. "The other very important education component of these forums is for the candidates to hear from the community."

A second Project for Deeper Understanding Forum Sept. 25 will feature school board candidates and those vying for offices in the state Legislature.

"So that people who are going to the booth perhaps solely motivated by the national elections will be in there making decisions and choices having a familiarity of their candidate and their various races," Garrison said.

Candidates vying for Summit County Council include:

Seat A Republican Bill Miles; Democrat Sally Elliott

Seat B Republican Grant Richins; Democrat Claudia McMullin

Seat C Republican Tom Hurd; Democrat John Hanrahan

Seat D Republican Alison Pitt, Democrat Chris Robinson and Gary Shumway, a member of the Constitution Party

Seat E Republican David Ure; Democrat Steve Weinstein


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