A tense, but rollicking, campaign may await Williams, Beerman | ParkRecord.com

A tense, but rollicking, campaign may await Williams, Beerman

Ex-mayor says era not over, but opponent argues he brings the right tone

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

Former Park City Mayor Dana Williams and Andy Beerman, a second-term member of the Park City Council, advanced out of the mayoral primary on Tuesday, finalizing the November ballot with two top-tier political figures who are expected to engage in a contest that could be tense at times and rollicking at other moments as they outline a vision for the community's future.

Williams, who served three terms as mayor ending in early 2014, on Tuesday proved he remains a formidable politician nearly four years after he left office. He garnered 904 votes, or 44.5 percent, to take first place in the preliminary count. Beerman trailed by double digits, taking 32.2 percent, or 654 votes. Roger Armstrong, a member of the Summit County Council, finished in third place and was eliminated from contention. Armstrong won 474 votes, or 23.3 percent.

The numbers will be finalized on Monday, after the ballots that arrived by mail on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are counted. Ballots left in drop boxes between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday must also be counted. It is unlikely the ballots left to be counted will significantly change the results. Voter turnout was approximately 42 percent.

Williams and Beerman want to succeed the retiring Jack Thomas, who will leave the mayor's office in early January after not seeking re-election to a second term.

"I just tried to stay very true to form," Williams said. "It sounds like the basic message resonated."

Williams, a Prospector resident, was best known as an activist with credentials as a development watchdog and an advocate for open space before he won the mayor's office in 2001. He guided Park City through the post-Olympic era, the following economic boom and then the recession. Williams remained popular throughout his 12 years in office, pressing issues like the environment and work force or otherwise affordable housing.

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"I represent an era that is not over," Williams said, pointing to his activism starting in the 1970s and extending through the 1990s.

Williams said he plans to continue to campaign in largely the same manner during the fall. More public appearances and living-room events are planned alongside door-to-door campaigning. He said his supporters represent a range of the Park City population, including senior citizens, millennials and Latinos. Business people like those in the taxi industry and property-management field support him as well, he said. The former mayor said he intends to run an issue-oriented campaign that will not rely on disparaging his opponent.

"I haven't changed how I operate since I first ran," Williams said, explaining that he will campaign for the constituents rather than against Beerman. "I can't be sidetracked by things that come from the competition."

Beerman, meanwhile, said he was not surprised with the results on Tuesday. He anticipated voters who did not back Williams would split their support between himself and Armstrong. Beerman said Armstrong voters on Wednesday told him they will support him on Election Day in November. Beerman said Williams is a "local celebrity" and a "household name" from his days as the mayor and his status as a guitarist-singer in a rock 'n' roll band that has had a local following for years. Beerman acknowledged Williams served Park City well as mayor but said the community has changed since he left office.

"I question what new he brings to the equation," Beerman said, adding that he is worried Williams would disrupt what Beerman sees as a strong working relationship among the current slate of elected officials. "I am concerned he could be able to keep the same chemistry we've had with Mayor Thomas."

Beerman, who lives in Old Town, served as a City Councilor during the final years of Williams' third term. Beerman described himself as having the "temperament, tone and vision" to be the mayor. He said "momentum has built" on City Hall issues like transportation, housing and energy since Williams left office.

Williams won two contentious mayoral campaigns, in 2001 and 2009, as he dismissed Fred Jones, a respected member of the City Council at the time, and then Brad Olch, a former three-term mayor who immediately preceded Williams in the office. He was not challenged when he was re-elected in 2005. Beerman has won two City Council campaigns against solid competition, but he lost the 2013 mayoral campaign to Thomas.

Armstrong said in a prepared statement he will continue to address issues from the dais at the County Courthouse. He has more than three years left in his term. He said he was "grateful to have been part of that group" of strong candidates.

"It's always hard to lose anything you try to achieve but this was a no-lose situation. I get to return to my County Council seat and continue to work hard for the people of Summit County – including those who live in Park City," Armstrong said, describing that he will address the area's issues with the other members of the County Council. "Many of our challenges can be met with careful regional collaboration and I look forward to continuing to work with my amazing colleagues, Chris Robinson, Kim Carson, Doug Clyde and Glenn Wright and the incredible county staff."