Park City election, kicking off Monday, may reveal continued City Hall support or appetite for change
The City Hall campaign officially starts on Monday, launching a five-month stretch of politics that will decide a majority of seats on the Park City Council and reveal whether the municipal government still enjoys the broad backing of recent years or whether scattered undercurrents of resistance signal rising discontent with the direction of the community.
Three City Council seats — those held by Nann Worel, Becca Gerber and Lynn Ware Peek — are on the ballot in November. Worel and Gerber have indicated they will seek second terms while Ware Peek, who joined the City Council through a midterm appointment, will not seek a full first term. Businessman Max Doilney has also said he will campaign for the City Council. The filing window opens on Monday and runs until Friday.
There has been little chatter in the community about others who are considering campaigns. A recent City Hall-hosted workshop designed for people mulling candidacies drew a sparse crowd, and nobody at the event said with certainty they plan to run for office this year.
City Hall over the past three years has enjoyed a string of successes. Voters in 2016 approved a $25 million ballot measure providing the bulk of the funding for the acquisition of Bonanza Flat in a conservation deal, Beerman won the mayor’s office in 2017 essentially stumping on City Hall’s record and, in 2018, Parkites approved a $48 million ballot measure that covered most of the cost of the acquisition of Treasure for conservation purposes.
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The City Hall agenda of sustainability, transportation, housing and social equity appears to have wide support in the community. It seems that the campaign, then, will center on the differences between the candidates regarding how the issues will be addressed rather than a focus on dismantling the agenda and replacing it with a different set of topics.
The candidates will likely offer ideas of how to better manage transportation through a combination of transit, road improvements and parking alterations in an effort to cut traffic. The housing discussions could stress both projects and programs while the sustainability platforms could deal with new ideas for environmentalism. The social equity planks of the candidates’ platforms could be especially intriguing since the election this year is the first since City Hall determined the topic to be a critical priority. It is designed to ensure a wide range of Parkites, such as Latinos, seniors and rank-and-file workers, have opportunities in the community. The candidates could attempt to woo voters from the various interest groups addressed through the social equity programs.
Other topics that could be addressed during the campaign include protecting Park City’s strong economy, the possibilities of additional conservation deals after the $100 million-plus spent between Treasure and Bonanza Flat and what many see as the increasing influence of corporations in Park City.
There has been concern in the community, though, about the direction of Park City and whether the municipal government is performing at the high levels seen by supporters of City Hall. The affordability of Park City remains a worry even as City Hall pursues an aggressive housing program and there are long-running complaints about traffic while the municipal government takes what it considers to be significant transportation steps like expanding bus routes.
The campaign season starts on Monday, but it is not clear when the intense politicking will start. If the field of candidates is greater than six, a primary would be held to reduce the field to six for Election Day in November. In that scenario, a primary would be held on Aug. 13.
A primary election would force the candidates into a summertime campaign, something that could present political challenges, particularly for candidates who are not well known, as the field presses issues at a time when many Parkites are enjoying vacations or the outdoors rather than closely following politics.
If there are not enough candidates to force a primary, the politics could be pushed back until after Labor Day, the typical start of the most important two-month stretch of any Park City campaign.
Election Day is Nov. 5. The winners will be sworn into office in early January for four-year terms.
Are you eligible?
Someone planning to campaign for a spot on the City Council must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old by Election Day and a resident of Park City for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the election. They also must be a registered voter in Park City.
The people running for office need to file a Declaration of Candidacy at the Marsac Building sometime between Monday and Friday. Hours are from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. More information is available on the City Hall website, http://www.parkcity.org. Select ‘Election Information’ in the Government section. The direct link is: parkcity.org/government/election-information. More information is also available by contacting Park City Recorder Michelle Kellogg, who is City Hall’s election official. The phone number is 615-5007 and the email address is email@example.com.
The East Side, too
Cities on the East Side of Summit County are also preparing for the opening of the filing window. The elections in East Side cities involve:
• three City Council seats in Coalville
• three City Council seats in Kamas
• three four-year City Council seats in Oakley and one two-year seat in that community
• two City Council seats in Francis
• two City Council seats in Henefer
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Park City leaders have approved turning Main Street into a pedestrian zone on Sundays in the summer, an effort to boost business.