Miles, Richer: voters have a choice in race
November 1, 2006
Woodland resident Bill Miles, a Republican vying for a seat on the Summit County Commission, is shoring up support among voters in western Summit County by painting himself as neither pro- nor anti-development.
The political horserace between Miles and incumbent County Commissioner Bob Richer, who is a Democrat from Snyderville, was arguably too close to call as the candidates geared up Tuesday for one last week of campaigning before Election Day.
Richer, who is seen as more moderate than his colleagues, Democratic Commissioners Sally Elliott and Ken Woolstenhulme, often represents a swing vote on the County Commission when decisions are split.
Republicans coveting Richer’s commission seat are banking on Miles, who is seen as the more conservative candidate in the race, to more often ally with Woolstenhulme, who is a cattle rancher from Oakley and staunch champion for property rights.
"I believe that we need to get a county government that is fair and consistent and objective to all of the members of the community," Miles said.
Richer’s decisions have resulted in "onerous" zoning codes, said Miles, adding, "We ought to treat the people honestly and friendly."
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"The whole concept of planning and developing and our codes in Summit County create a lot of problems," Miles said. "We need to set these rules out upfront so that they’re clear, they’re understandable and people understand what they need to do."
By restricting development, the county has attempted to decrease the value of private property in Snyderville so the government can gobble it up as open space, Miles charged.
"They don’t try to steal the property from anybody," countered Richer, who defended the actions of the county’s Basin Open Space Advisory Committee. "The seller can always say no."
Not closely monitoring developers in Snyderville could "kill the goose that laid the golden egg," he added.
Richer touted adoption by the commission of a revised Basin General Plan and Development Code, which he pushed for two years ago.
"It was to simplify the system," Richer said. "It takes some of the degree of subjectivity out of it."
As Miles spoke about how much tax revenue more big-box retailers could generate for the county, Richer insisted too many of those businesses would make the area less appealing to tourists.
"They don’t come here to shop at a Target that looks just like the Targets they have at home," Richer said. "They come to experience our three world-class ski resorts."
Government change defining race
Richer and Miles will cast opposing votes on whether the three-person Summit County Commission should expand to five representatives with an executive manager.
But with Richer linked politically to Summit County Proposition 1 as a strong supporter of the ballot measure, the issue could determine the outcome of the race.
If Proposition 1 supporters turn out Election Day it is likely that they will also vote to re-elect Richer.
Acknowledging county government needs improving, Miles says he is against the council/manager option the County Commission presented to voters.
Part-time sitting commissioners who currently earn a salary around $51,000 per year — could be allowed to claim two years worth of salary without working if the board is dissolved in 2008.
"If it passes, I’m on board for two years and the county doesn’t owe me one dime," said Richer, who promises he would give the money back to taxpayers.
If elected, Miles, who is against Proposition 1, said he couldn’t promise voters Tuesday that he would return the pay if the commissioners are ousted.
"I’ve really never given it much thought," Miles said. "It just doesn’t seem like that big of deal one way or the other."
Meanwhile, Miles says the county’s 311 employees would become more "people friendly" under his watch.
"It’s easy to say everybody should be more friendly, it’s like saying I believe in motherhood and apple pie," countered Richer, who is about to complete his first term on the County Commission. "It’s so easy to talk about this stuff, but would you please tell me what we’re not doing and what you would do?"
Eyesore at Brown’s Canyon
As Stock Lumber Supply prepares to relocate from Park City to Wasatch County along S.R. 248 near Brown’s Canyon, Miles blasted Richer for allowing Summit County to lose economic development while spaces at a Quinn’s Junction industrial park sit empty.
"We’re sending $10, $20 million right across the line into Wasatch County," Miles said. "It’s more visible and it’s going to create problems for Summit County, when we could put them in our industrial park."
Richer insists, "Wasatch County is its own entity They see a cash cow in this area of their county."
But Miles blamed the loss of tax revenue for Summit County on Snyderville’s unreasonable zoning ordinances, which he insisted would cause traffic gridlock at Quinn’s Junction.
"This Brown’s Canyon is a mile from (Quinn’s Junction)," Miles said. "You’re going to develop a traffic jam, another Kimball Junction at Quinn’s Junction."