Park City candidates stir little outward discord
City Hall campaign has lacked intensity of past elections
October 6, 2017
The Park City election has the candidate field and has the issues as the voting quickly approaches.
But what it doesn't have as the crucial final month of campaigning begins is the outward intensity of past City Hall elections, particularly those with the mayor's office on the ballot.
Campaign 2017 has thus far largely been a mild-mannered affair with barely a flare-up between the candidates. The contest started in the spring with campaign announcements, remained largely cordial during the mayoral primary season and, since then, has lacked the political fireworks that may have been expected with prominent names on the ballot and an electorate concerned with a range of issues similar to those that stirred campaigns in the past.
The mayoral campaign pits former Mayor Dana Williams, who served three terms in Park City's highest office ending in early 2014, against Park City Councilor Andy Beerman, a popular elected official who is seeking the mayor's office for a second time after a defeat in 2013. They are two of the highest-profile political figures in Park City and advanced out of a primary against another well-known politician, Summit County Councilor Roger Armstrong.
The field for the two City Council seats on the ballot, meanwhile, involves incumbent City Councilor Tim Henney, Park City Planning Commissioner Steve Joyce, environmental activist Josh Hobson and Mark Blue, a perennial candidate who campaigns on diverse platforms. The other incumbent whose City Council seat is on the ballot, Cindy Matsumoto, is retiring from elected office.
It is difficult to pinpoint underlying reasons why the outward intensity has seemed to be lacking when putting the 2017 campaign against earlier ones, including a 2013 contest that featured the same three positions as the 2017 political season. Many Parkites continue to have concerns about the city's future, worrying about growth, traffic, housing for workers and the overall business climate. Those sorts of issues have largely defined Park City campaigns for a generation. The candidates are addressing the issues this year as well, outlining platforms in front of audiences and in marketing materials, but generally in a fashion that has not stirred discord between them to the extent of past campaigns.
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The lack of tension in the City Council contest is especially notable since there was not a primary election that would have provided some insight into voter preferences. The four candidates are approaching Election Day without a formal read on the electorate, meaning there was no preliminary round of voting to guide them to certain neighborhoods or demographics during the fall campaign season.
The candidates themselves have continued to campaign regardless of the outward intensity. They have been holding events for fundraising, given stump speeches, have digital outlets and have been in the neighborhoods, a longtime requirement during City Hall elections. Numerous campaign signs have appeared in yards across Park City in recent weeks.
The political season in 2017 in some ways was expected to be more concentrated as a result of the system of balloting by mail that is in place for the municipal elections. It is a system that is designed to make it more convenient for voters to cast a ballot, but it is also one that shrinks the campaign window since many voters will not wait until Election Day to make their decisions and return their marked ballot.
It seems unlikely there will be any pronounced uptick in the intensity until at least the end of next week. The entire field is expected to participate in a campaign forum on Friday co-hosted by the Park City Board of Realtors and the Park City Chamber/Bureau, two groups that normally are interested in economic issues. The event is scheduled from 11:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library. At least one forum is believed to be scheduled the week after as well.