Park City election is months away, but the campaign has started
Election Day is months away, but the campaign season in Park City has already started.
Park City Councilor Nann Worel’s announcement early in the week that she will seek reelection essentially marked an unofficial launch of the City Hall campaign. The campaign will officially start in June with the opening of the filing window when candidates can submit the necessary paperwork to formalize their City Council bids.
There are three seats on the City Council on the ballot in November, those currently held by Worel, Becca Gerber and Lynn Ware Peek. Gerber is a first-term City Councilor while Ware Peek was appointed to a partial City Council term to succeed Andy Beerman when he ascended to the mayor’s office. The mayor’s office and the City Council seats held by Tim Henney and Steve Joyce are not on the ballot in 2019.
Worel’s early announcement could prove to be a key moment in the campaign even though it was made several weeks before the opening of the filing window. She has appeared to remain popular throughout her three-plus years on the City Council after finishing in second place out of six candidates in the 2015 campaign. She previously served on the Park City Planning Commission, a post that has long been a step toward successful City Council and mayoral campaigns.
Her popularity could influence the thinking of City Hall supporters who may be considering a campaign for the City Council this year. Worel’s name on the ballot may convince some who respect her to delay a campaign another two years rather than mounting a bid for the City Council alongside her. City Council candidates run against the entire field in Park City for at-large seats rather than individual candidates for a specific seat.
Worel this week declined to discuss her platform, saying she wanted to hear from rank-and-file Parkites before finalizing the issues she will press. She declined to comment about whether the platform will reflect City Hall’s current priorities. It is likely, though, that her platform will at least roughly reflect the work plan of the municipal government since officials, with her backing at high levels, continue to pursue an aggressive agenda of housing, transportation and the broad ideal of sustainability.
Ware Peek on Wednesday said she would not campaign for a full first term. Gerber was traveling and said she would publicize her plans for the election shortly.
No one other than Worel has publicized an intention to seek a City Council seat. The timing of announcements of City Council campaigns ranges from prior to the filing window to the moment someone submits the paperwork at City Hall.
It is not clear what sort of field will appear as the filing window approaches and then opens. The municipal government seems to be a popular institution as of now, reflected in Beerman’s mayoral victory in 2017 followed the next year by voter approval of a ballot measure that funded most of the $64 million acquisition cost of the Treasure acreage in a conservation deal. There has appeared to be broad support for municipal priorities like workforce or otherwise restricted housing, transportation and the ideal of sustainability, which encompasses a range of topics like the municipal environmental programs.
The City Council field may eventually involve Parkites who are supportive of City Hall, who could run campaigns saying they want to continue the work that is already underway. They could say there is community backing for the City Hall agenda and they would fit well on a City Council that would continue to pursue the goals of the current slate of elected officials.
But there could also be City Hall detractors who may see vulnerabilities even within a municipal government that has enjoyed successes like the Treasure acquisition in recent years. They could press campaign platforms questioning topics like the effectiveness of City Hall’s traffic and transportation programs at a time when complaints continue to be widespread about backups as well as the impact of the municipal housing program in a community where many rank-and-file workers continue to be priced out of the resort-driven real estate and rental markets.
The filing window runs from June 3 until June 7. If more than six people submit campaign paperwork, an Aug. 13 primary election would be held to reduce the field to six. Election Day is Nov. 5. The winners will be sworn into office early in 2020.
Someone must be a U.S. citizen, a registered voter in the Park City limits and have lived in Park City for a minimum of 12 straight months prior to Election Day to be eligible to run for a City Council seat.
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Most of the $5.1 million increase over last year’s budget is from an increase in grant funding for the Health Department.