Lifelong Republican elected to lead Summit County party
Jennifer McDonald describes herself as a lifelong conservative who was “born a Republican.”
McDonald, who lives in the Snyderville Basin and works as a dental hygienist, said she didn’t really start paying attention to politics, though, until she got her first job at a Target in Fort Collins, Colorado, during college.
“When I got my first paycheck, I started wondering where all of my money was going,” she said. “That got me really interested in the people who were in control of my money.”
McDonald was selected last week as the new Summit County Republican Party Chair at the group’s annual convention. She replaces one-term party chairman Brantley Eason.
McDonald said the idea to run for party chair casually came up during a monthly meeting she attends with several women in the community. She added, “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“I’m a good listener and a good debater,” she said. “I like listening to other people and their ideas, and I like getting things done. But, this is all really new to me.”
The Summit County Republican Party Convention, held on April 16, drew a crowd of roughly 35 people. Delegates selected Vicki Richards as vice chair and Hillary Jessup as secretary, while Karen Spencer was chosen as treasurer.
The following people were designated as regional chairs: Carlos Tavares, North Summit; Sue Pollard, former vice chair of the party, South Summit; Dawn Kenton, Park City; and Kirsten Brown, Park City. Former party chairman Tal Adair was reelected as state central committee member.
The executive committee nominated a few candidates to serve as party chair, but they declined to accept the position, McDonald said.
“It was actually pretty funny that I won in a landslide,” she said.
Eason, who served as party chairman for one term, said he decided not to seek to retain his position so he could spend more time with his family, especially his three young children. He has been a member of the executive committee for about eight years, previously serving as secretary and regional chair.
As the former party chair, he will remain a member of the county’s central committee to help McDonald transition into her new role.
“It was just time,” he said. “I wanted to spend time with the kids and family. But, obviously I’m not done with politics.”
McDonald plans to rally the county’s Republicans to “let the rest of the state know there are conservatives in Summit County.” She said Park City is viewed as the “Sin City” of the state.
“My goal is to get those people encouraged to come out and support the party,” she said. “I think it is fun to be a conservative and a Republican.”
McDonald believes it is “a really good time” to be a Republican despite what some see as animosity between Republicans and Democrats. She suspects some party members are scared to speak out because of the political climate.
“There are a lot of us. They just don’t come out of the woodwork right now,” she said. “It’s dangerous. People get punched in the face and get tires slashed. They would rather not say anything for fear of retribution. It happens in Summit County and Park City.”
She said such animosity is harmful to the community but is unnecessary.
“I hope it gets better,” she said. “When I sit down with Democrats and we are able to talk, there is no animosity or anger. We just have different views. I just want to be a part of getting something going in the community. I want to know what people are thinking. I want to know what their concerns are whether they are Republican or Democrat. I want to be a part of that conversation and see if I can be part of the solution.”
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.