November 8 editorial |

November 8 editorial

County elections should be decided on the issues, not on party affiliations

The electoral map of Summit County still shows a stark geographic and partisan divide. This year, the gap narrowed somewhat and the percentage-point spread between winners and losers was smaller and, remarkably, there were a couple of precincts where voters actually veered from a straight party ticket, giving the majority of their support to a smattering of candidates from both parties.

But overall, this year, candidates on the Democratic ticket got a significant boost from the excitement surrounding the presidential race. We can’t help wondering how the County Council election results might have turned out if the races were nonpartisan.

Would political newcomer Steve Weinstein have won so many West Side precincts if he had not been a Democrat?

Would Alison Pitt, a Park City resident, have earned more West Side support if her name had not appeared on the Republican side of the ballot?

Both waged good campaigns, but it is likely the two, who were relatively unknown to county voters, were judged more on their party affiliation than their platforms.

Weinstein ran against veteran state legislator David Ure who actively championed legislation in Park City’s interest over his long tenure in the Utah House. Three West Side precincts recognized that and swung their support over the divide to help put Ure in the driver’s seat.

To their credit, Weinstein and Ure conducted a friendly, almost jovial campaign against one another. While The Record endorsed Ure, we are hoping Weinstein, with his warmth and enthusiastic civic spirit, will continue to participate in public service.

Based on her environmental platform, Pitt’s stand on many of the issues facing Summit County was in perfect synch with West Side residents. Park City area precincts, though, rejected Pitt in favor of her Democratic opponent, Chris Robinson. Pitt may have been further handicapped by a third-party candidate in the race who likely siphoned more votes from the Republican side than the Democrat side.

She, too, offered a number of constructive ideas over the course of her campaign and we hope she continues her involvement in local government.

It is not that we are unhappy with the outcome of the election. All of the county council candidates endorsed by The Record won their races. But after careful scrutiny of the results, it is clear that partisan labels play an overly large role in county politics where most of the issues are, or at least should be, devoid of partisan maneuvering.

When the candidates were asked at last week’s debate whether County Council races should be made nonpartisan, all agreed that they should. With a new five-member council slated to take office in January, and two years until the next council election, it might be a good time to begin studying how to make that change.

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