Park City candidates liken struggles of Latinos to those of Anglos
Mayoral, City Council candidates address community’s minority population
October 23, 2017
The two Park City mayoral candidates on Friday evening essentially likened the housing struggles of the community's Latinos to those of many others who live in the city and are having difficulties in the most expensive real estate market in the state.
Park City Councilor Andy Beerman and Dana Williams, a former three-term mayor, appeared at a candidate forum alongside three of the four Park City Council candidates. The forum, organized by a group known as PC Unidos, centered on issues of importance to the Latino population and was held in English and Spanish with translation. Approximately 30 people, mostly Latinos, attended the event. It was held at the People's Health Clinic.
Beerman and Williams, who spoke briefly in Spanish, appeared to be largely in agreement when addressing the underlying issues of the Latino community. The two competitors expressed support for Latinos and offered a range of comments centered on what is by a wide margin Park City's largest minority population.
Housing is one of the key issues among Latinos as they attempt to find affordable living quarters in a community where the resort-driven real estate market has priced out many rank-and-file workers.
Williams told the crowd the working class of Park City includes many Anglos in addition to Latinos and many employment opportunities are in the service sector.
"It is very difficult. We struggle on a monthly basis," Williams said, adding, "It's something we have in common."
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Beerman made similar comments, saying anyone who is working in Park City is struggling with the same sorts of situations. He told the crowd City Hall is working on issues like housing and transportation. Beerman added there are reduced recreation fees for the underserved.
"Affordability is a community issue," Beerman said, adding City Hall has made progress on childcare and wants to ensure utility prices do not climb significantly.
Williams, meanwhile, said he wants to seat some sort of panel involving Latinos and City Hall that would meet on a monthly basis. He also said there are lots of immigration-related topics that he would press on the federal level. Williams said Latinos have different issues depending on their homeland.
"The Latino community is as varied as the Anglo community," he said.
Beerman addressed an audience question regarding the minimum wage, something that is set on the state and federal levels. He explained the state does not allow a municipality like Park City to set its own minimum wage. Park City leaders, though, could consider a resolution about the issue, he said. That could "shame them, so to speak" in an effort to increase the minimum wage, he said.
The event on Friday provided the candidates an opportunity to address a population that typically is not seen in large numbers at political gatherings. But Latinos are estimated to account for up to 25 percent of the population of Park City. Leaders in Park City over the years have attempted to make progress on Latino issues with varying degrees of success.
Some topics like immigration have been of increased note since President Trump won the White House on a platform that included a hardline immigration plank.
Three of the City Council candidates — incumbent City Councilor Tim Henney, Park City Planning Commissioner Steve Joyce and environmental activist and chef Josh Hobson — addressed the crowd as well. Mark Blue, the fourth City Council candidate, was not in attendance.
Highlights of the remarks by the City Council candidates included:
- Hobson saying he speaks "very kitchen Spanish," addressing the crowd for a moment in Spanish. He said the City Council understands Park City better than Washington, D.C.
- Henney saying Parkites will hear about issues related to social justice from City Hall, something that he predicted will impact Latinos as well as the wider population of Park City.
- Joyce addressing the cost of living in Park City as compared to elsewhere in the state. He said a wage that would be livable in Park City is different than it would be in other places in Utah. If state leaders increase the minimum wage, they would not "set it for Park City livability," he said.
- Hobson indicating City Hall could work with the organizers of events to reduce traffic, saying perhaps events could be approved or rejected based on transportation plans. He also broached the possibility of requiring event organizers to tap local transportation companies.
- Henney describing that the affordability of Park City is impacted by housing, transportation and childcare. City Hall is working on initiatives that address each of the three, he said.
- Joyce contending that issues important to Park City's Latinos are similar to those important to the rest of the community. He cited the competition between taxi companies and ride-sharing services like Uber as an example.