Park City Council seat draws interest from green activist, jewelry designer
Two people said on Tuesday they intend to submit their names for a midterm Park City Council appointment as a City Hall-organized event designed to provide information about the appointment process drew approximately 20 people, a solid crowd for a gathering that was scheduled amid the distractions of the fast-approaching holidays.
It is a rare midterm City Council appointment that is required as a result of Andy Beerman’s successful campaign for the mayor’s office. Beerman, now a member of the City Council, intends to step down from his seat on Wednesday as he prepares to takes the oath of office as the mayor in early January. The City Council term Beerman will vacate ends in early January of 2020. The remaining City Councilors will select the person.
Josh Hobson, an environmental activist and a chef, said in an interview at the event he plans to submit his name. He unsuccessfully campaigned for a City Council seat this year. Hobson’s bid for the City Council involved a platform of environmentalism, transportation and housing, issues that are crucial to the City Hall work plan.
“I feel I owe it to the people who voted for me to continue trying,” Hobson said at the event, held at the Park City Library.
Another person at the event, Ron Butkovich, a jewelry designer, also said in an interview he will submit an application for the appointment. Butkovich said Old Town issues are important, traffic must be addressed and Park City has become an “event city.”
“How do we make it work?” Butkovich said about the various interests in the community.
Hobson and Butkovich were in the room with others who appeared to have differing levels of interest in the upcoming opening on the City Council. Some, it seemed, will submit their name while others were apparently considering a City Council campaign later and wanted to learn about the duties of the position.
Two members of the City Council — Tim Henney and Becca Gerber — were the primary presenters. Mark Harrington, the Park City attorney, outlined legal and ethical issues related to City Council service while Michelle Kellogg, who is the Park City recorder and election official, described the application process.
The appointment will be made at a critical time as the incoming mayor and the City Council are poised to continue an aggressive agenda that focuses on issues like housing, transportation and sustainability. The agenda has more recently expanded to include the ideal of social equity, something that is expected to influence many of the other issues.
Henney described a City Council position as one that crafts a vision for the community. He said City Council service provides “soulful gratification” and he expressed concern if someone’s service became about “ego gratification.” Gerber suggested someone not seek a City Council seat if their motivation is to fix things at the Marsac Building or if they see themselves as understanding everything about the city. People should respect the government processes, she said, explaining that a City Councilor cannot do anything they like.
“There’s a lot to love about it,” Gerber said about the public process.
They also outlined the time commitment of a City Councilor, an issue that has played a role in campaign decisions for years. Henney said a City Councilor should expect to work a minimum of 20 hours a week on municipal business with the hours regularly extending to between 25 and 30 each week. The time is spent attending meetings and reading City Hall reports, he said. Gerber said the City Council duties can become disruptive to someone’s normal schedule and flexibility is needed. The City Council schedule is “all over the place,” she said.
The city attorney, meanwhile, told the audience public service does not put someone at personal legal risk unless they commit a serious offense. Harrington spoke briefly about ethics as well.
“Don’t abuse your office,” he cautioned.
He explained City Councilors must disclose potential conflicts between their personal or professional lives and their public service. City Councilors generally are allowed to participate in discussions once a potential conflict is disclosed, he said.
City Hall will begin accepting applications for the appointment on Wednesday with a deadline of noon on Jan. 5. Beerman and the remaining City Councilors are scheduled to interview the contenders in open sessions shortly afterward with an appointment likely on Jan. 23.
Eligibility requirements are someone must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 and a registered voter inside the Park City limits. They also must have lived within the city limits for 365 or more consecutive days. Someone cannot be a convicted felon and they must agree to authorize a background check.
The municipal government has posted information and applications on the City Hall website, http://www.parkcity.org. Select ‘Election Information’ in the Government tab. The direct link is: http://www.parkcity.org/government/election-information. Contact Kellogg at 615-5007 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Approximately 80 people spoke during the meeting, mostly in opposition to the Tech Center proposal. The hearing drew a capacity crowd to Newpark Resort’s conference center, while hundreds of others attended virtually.