Most mayors in Summit County unopposed Election Day
The mayors of Summit County’s two largest cities are poised to coast to victories Nov. 8 but political fireworks could erupt as city council and mayoral hopefuls vie for office in several East Side hamlets.
Park City Mayor Dana Williams, Lew Marchant, the mayor of Kamas, Oakley Mayor Blake Frazier and Henefer Mayor Jim Rees are unopposed next Tuesday, however, competitive races to lead Coalville and Francis for the next four years, could provide campaign fodder for poll watchers observing an otherwise mundane local political landscape.
Campaign signs that tout the governing skills of Duane Schmidt and Rex Smith are difficult to miss in North Summit as the men prepare to face off Election Day. Both would like to replace outgoing Coalville Mayor Howard Madsen who is running for a seat on the Coalville City Council. After Madsen dropped out of the mayoral race last summer, Schmidt and Smith trounced former Coalville mayor Merlyn Johnson in an October primary election.
"I offer people a fresh start, a clean slate, a fresh perspective on the city," Schmidt said Monday.
He moved to Coalville about two years ago and was appointed to the Coalville City Council last January to serve the remainder of Sheldon Smith’s term.
As mayor, he would ensure that noxious weeds are pulled in the city and the lawn at City Hall is trimmed, Schmidt said.
He would pursue state and federal funding for projects like the installation of new curbing and gutter along Main Street, he added.
"I’ve been involved and I understand what’s going on with the city," he said.
As a city councilor, Schmidt has been briefed on development-related lawsuits filed against Coalville but wouldn’t comment Monday on any pending legal action.
Enticing businesses into North Summit is critical, he said.
"We could always use more tax base & we’re going to have to work on the economics of the business community," said Schmidt, who owns Humpty Dumpsters, a waste-disposal company in Summit County. "Change is inevitable, but we need to change the city to what the people of Coalville want."
Schmidt garnered 63 percent of the vote in last month’s primary. Twenty percent of Coalville’s electorate voted for Smith and 16 percent for Johnson.
Smith did not return telephone calls seeking comment before press time.
The candidates running for mayor in Francis are vying against their Coalville neighbors to woo businesses to eastern Summit County.
"They don’t want to be New York City, they want to be a rural town [but] the amount of new home starts in our town is unbelievable," said Francis mayoral candidate John Bergen, who is running against Rae Prescott for the top office.
Commercial development would help offset the costs of providing services to new residents, he added.
Bergen was mayor of Francis for four years in the 1980s when the town was beginning to grow. The town’s sewer system came on line under his watch and in 1986 his administration helped start Francis Frontier Days, Bergen said.
"Some of the infrastructure that I put in 20 years ago is needing some improvements," he said, adding that elected officials must soon determine how to stop the flow of residue into one of the town’s sewer ponds. "We’re about to outgrow it."
Bergen claims his past political experience puts him in a strong position to obtain grants for water and sewer improvements.
"If people don’t know how to play that type of a game, they’re not going to get it done," he said.
But Prescott, his opponent, served for six years on the Francis Town Council and is already exploring ways to alleviate the town’s sewer woes.
"We need to get some grants to upgrade everything that we have," she said.
Economic development is critical, she added.
"Something that would bring revenue into our town & we don’t have any restaurants," Prescott said, adding the property near Wild Willow Drive is zoned for commercial development.
Polls will be open Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Summit County six municipalities.
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