New Summit County Democratic Party chair says harnessing 2018 momentum is key
Until 2018, Meredith Reed’s highest level of involvement in a political campaign was knocking on a few doors as a volunteer.
That changed when she attended one of the Summit County Democratic Party caucuses last spring. Inspired by the enthusiasm on display, Reed went on to manage the campaign of Eileen Gallagher, who was running for the Senate District 26 seat in the Utah Legislature.
A year later, Reed will continue to be involved in local politics. She was elected earlier this month to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity in the county to ride the so-called blue wave that saw Democrats take control of the U.S. House and pick up seats in the Utah Legislature in 2018.
Locally, Democrats ran unopposed in Summit County Courthouse races last fall and nearly toppled incumbent GOP state Rep. Tim Quinn in District 54.
“My sense of the energy and the momentum is that this will continue,” said Reed, who lives in Jeremy Ranch. “I think local races are really important. The federal stuff gets all the attention and can kind of suck the air out of the room, but people are concerned about what’s happening here in Utah and in the county.”
Turning the momentum into votes, though, will take work, Reed said. With an eye toward 2020, the party has already begun a fundraising campaign and intends to spend this summer knocking on the doors of every registered Democrat in the county.
“We’re not waiting for election season,” she said. “We’re keeping the ball rolling right now.”
She also said it will be critical for the party to recruit candidates capable of connecting with voters.
“As a chair, I’m someone who’s here to nurture all folks who want to run, and then we have the primary process to see how that falls out,” she said.
A former Air Force chaplain who now works as a Realtor, Reed replaces outgoing one-term party chair Cheryl Butler, who did not seek reelection. Butler said giving up the position allows her to spend more time with family and focus on her work with Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties, where she will oversee the construction of affordable housing units in Silver Creek Village.
“I actually do believe that it’s good to have an influx of new people to encourage folks to be a part of the party,” she said. “Meredith is going to be a tremendous chair, so we’re real excited to have her.”
Along with choosing Reed as chair, party delegates filled a number of other leadership posts, selecting Rory Swenson as North Summit vice chair, Bob Jasper as Park City vice chair, Nan Chalat Noaker as South Summit vice chair, Chris Neville as secretary, Corrie Whitehouse Forsling as treasurer, Beth Armstrong and Leonard McGee as central committee representatives and Stephanie Dolmat as public relations and fundraising chair.
Reed said her experience working on Gallagher’s campaign left her eager to take on a leadership position from which she can encourage others to become more involved in local politics. There was joy in spreading a platform she believed in, and she was encouraged by the welcome reception she received while canvassing through the district, even from people who were unlikely to vote for her candidate.
“Honestly, the door-knocking experience of just going out to meet people, how happy they were to hear from somebody that was running for office,” she said. “A lot of people were like, ‘You’re the first person that’s ever come to me.’ And it shouldn’t be that way.”
Editor’s note: Nan Chalat Noaker is a former editor of The Park Record.
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Arlene Loble served as the Park City manager in the 1980s, a pivotal period that prepared the community for the boom years that would follow in the 1990s. Loble, who recently died, is credited with introducing a level of professionalism to the municipal government that was needed amid the growth challenges.