Park City leaders select Marsac Building staffer for City Council post
Lynn Ware Peek, a Marsac Building staffer who once worked as a journalist, was appointed to the Park City Council on Tuesday night, putting her in a powerful position with oversight of people she worked for as a staffer and covered as a reporter.
The City Council voted 3-0 in favor of the appointment. City Councilor Tim Henney abstained, citing personal and professional relationships with Ware Peek. She will be sworn into office on Feb. 1.
“Thank you. I’m humbled,” Ware Peek said after the vote.
She told Mayor Andy Beerman and the City Council her background prepares her well for the role.
It was a rare midterm appointment made necessary by Beerman’s mayoral victory in November and subsequent resignation from the City Council to take office as the mayor. The term expires in early January of 2020. She would need to campaign for a full four-year term to retain the seat at that point.
Ware Peek was selected from a field of 15. The candidates offered broad backgrounds and the field was seen as a formidable group of Parkites. The elected officials said the field was narrowed to three finalists — Ware Peek, Park City Education Foundation Executive Director Abby McNulty and Diane Bernhardt, who is an advocate for students who are blind or visually impaired as well as an activist in development issues in the Rossie Hill neighborhood.
City Councilor Nann Worel spoke favorably about Ware Peek in comments prior to the vote, saying she has proven communication skills, critical thinking abilities and is knowledgeable of City Hall issues. Worel also said Ware Peek is aware of the municipal government’s social equity efforts and her sons were students in the Park City School District.
Ware Peek is currently the community engagement liaison for the municipal government. She is heavily involved in City Hall’s efforts to address Latino issues as the community engagement liaison and has a role in the Marsac Building’s public-relations apparatus. Ware Peek said she would step down from the post prior to her swearing-in as a City Councilor. Ware Peek, 53, lives in Park Meadows and has lived in Park City or the Snyderville Basin for 31 years.
In her application for the appointment, Ware Peek indicated she has worked in wide-ranging fields, including as a server in a restaurant, a massage therapist and in the special events and sales section of the Utah Olympic Park. She said in the application she attended numerous government meetings, including the majority of City Council meetings, as a reporter for KPCW radio before she was hired at the Marsac Building in the fall of 2016.
The application said she speaks Spanish and has relationships with Park City’s Latinos. She also said she is “up to speed on” City Hall issues and has a good relationship with the elected officials. She described herself as a “known commodity.”
“During the 2017 campaign, I often heard public comments about the lack of women and Spanish speakers running for office. I reflected during the campaign that perhaps it was my time to serve my community in this way,” Ware Peek said in the application. “Since my time as a reporter, I have been a great fan of the City and the work it does and have wanted greater involvement.”
She said in the application the City Council “would be more rounded out with the addition of someone who already has relationships” with the Latino population, merchants, the work force and residents.
Selection process faulty
Beerman at the meeting on Tuesday acknowledged officials followed a faulty appointment process, explaining that the steps were based on a state law as it was previously written.
According to the mayor, a change was made to state open meeting rules that required deliberations about the appointment be done in public. Beerman and the City Council, though, held their deliberations in closed-door sessions after interviewing the candidate field in public sessions.
He said the change was made in 2012 and that an appointment of a City Councilor is a rare occurrence in Park City. He said the elected officials did not intentionally make the mistake of deliberating in closed-door sessions. Beerman apologized on behalf of the elected officials.
Beerman and the City Council afterward discussed each of the candidates in an open setting before voting to appoint Ware Peek.
One of the unsuccessful candidates received praise even as the City Council indicated he was not one of the three finalists.
Josh Hobson, an environmental activist and a chef, was in the City Council chambers as Ware Peek was selected. City Councilor Becca Gerber recognized Hobson, saying she has lots of respect for him. He received a round of applause after Gerber’s comments.
Hobson was the third-place finisher in the City Council campaign in 2017. There were two seats on the ballot.
Worel also praised him in her comments about several of the candidates, saying he is knowledgeable about Park City issues after having campaigned last year. He earned his votes, she said. Worel also noted Hobson has attended City Council meetings recently and organized an event called the March for Science, which was a gathering last spring meant to show support for ensuring public-policy decisions are based on scientific evidence.
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It was an important decision since the rest of the talks will be heavily influenced by the processing option selected by the Planning Commission on Wednesday.