Mayor mum on political future
January 2, 2009
Mayor Dana Williams said in an interview he is close to deciding whether he will seek re-election in November, but he declined to indicate which way he is leaning.
The mayor is in his second four-year term. His term expires next January. He has said little publicly that would provide clues about his political intentions.
The filing window for the City Hall election is not until midsummer, but there has already been some chatter about this year’s mayoral campaign. A taxi driver, Diania Turner, said last fall she would seek the mayor’s office.
There has been scattered scuttlebutt about big-name veterans of Park City politics like former Mayor Brad Olch and Shaun Kerr, an ex-Park City Councilwoman who later served on the Summit County Commission. Neither has committed to a campaign, and Olch has been especially reticent about being a candidate.
Williams said he has not set a timetable for an announcement about his intentions.
"I have pretty much made up my mind, but I’m not at the point I want to talk about it yet," the mayor said.
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Williams, who is 53 years old and lives in Prospector, rose to political prominence in the 1990s as the leader of development watchdog Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth.
He won the mayor’s office in a bitterly contested campaign in 2001 against Fred Jones, then a member of the City Council. Williams won a second term in 2005. He was unopposed that year.
His administration, which started a month before the 2002 Winter Olympics, has stressed City Hall’s environmental programs. Park City enjoyed a strong economy through most of the Williams administration. Parkites have generally seemed happy with City Hall while Williams has been in office.
Williams, however, recently lost a high-level real estate job, with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage asking him to relinquish a management position because his mayoral duties did not leave enough time for his work at the brokerage.
Williams said he is looking for work, but he does not intend to return to the real estate profession. He said he would prefer finding a job in an environmental field that holds more interest to him. Williams has been heavily involved in statewide talks about climate change and has championed energies, like wind-generated power, that are friendlier to the environment.
If Williams seeks a third term, he likely would be a formidable candidate. He seems to have sustained the grass-roots support that put him into office in 2001, there is not a divisive issue of a citywide nature and there are very few people in Park City who match his political stature.
Meanwhile, the City Council seats held by Jim Hier and Roger Harlan also are on the November ballot. Nobody has publicly announced they will campaign for a City Council seat. In interviews, the two City Councilmen said they had not decided whether they will seek re-election.
Hier, however, indicated he is leaning toward retiring from City Hall politics. Now 66 years old, he is in his second term. He served on the city’s Planning Commission before winning a spot on the City Council.
"At the moment, I’m not planning on going for re-election," he said, adding, "It would be 13 years worth of Planning Commission and City Council. I’m thinking that’s plenty of time."
Roger Harlan, in his second stint as a City Councilman, said he will start weighing his options this month. He will be 74 years old on Election Day. Harlan said his age will be a consideration, but it will not be a major factor in his decision whether to seek re-election.
If more than two people seek the mayor’s office, a primary election would be held to reduce the field to two for Election Day. A primary will be scheduled in the City Council campaign to narrow the field to four candidates if more than four people seek a spot.