Park City campaign season nears, but where are the candidates? |

Park City campaign season nears, but where are the candidates?

Past fields sometimes have started to take shape by final days of April

by Jay Hamburger

By the last week of April in 2013, Parkites already had a preview of the upcoming election season that year.

But four years later, with the same three Park City seats to be decided, it remains largely unclear whose names will be on the ballot. The Park City campaign does not officially start until June, but the unofficial beginning of the City Hall election, when candidates start announcing their intentions, oftentimes has started by this time in April. This year, instead, there has been little chatter about the upcoming campaign.

It is unclear why the election season has started so slowly this year, particularly in the months following the invigorating national, state and county politics of 2016, but it seems likely there will be greater interest in the City Hall election in coming weeks. The window when candidates must file campaign paperwork opens on June 1 and lasts until June 7. Although some candidates do not publicize their intentions until they file the paperwork, many others announce their campaigns prior to the filing window opening.

It is likely some Parkites mulling a campaign are awaiting announcements from the three incumbents whose seats are on the ballot this year. The mayor’s office is the top prize in November. The incumbent, first-term Mayor Jack Thomas, has not indicated whether he will seek a second term. An announcement from Thomas will almost certainly have an immediate impact as potential mayoral contenders weigh whether they want to challenge an incumbent if he seeks re-election or whether they want to compete for the open office if he does not. Thomas has provided few clues to his intentions in November.

The mayoral position in Park City is undisputedly the most prominent elected position in Park City and one of the most notable political posts in Summit County. The mayor’s office in Park City is seen as a position that can, importantly, set the tone of the municipal government as well as crafting the City Hall work plan.

It is a stark contrast to the campaign of 2013. The incumbent mayor at the time, Dana Williams, by the first week in April had declared he would not seek re-election to a fourth term. The first candidate for the mayor’s office emerged quickly afterward. Andy Beerman, a City Councilor who retains the same seat he had then, announced his ultimately unsuccessful mayoral bid a week later. The announcement from Thomas followed a month afterward.

The City Council contest in 2017 is also starting slowly compared to the one four years ago. The seats held by Cindy Matsumoto and Tim Henney are on the ballot. Henney has said it is likely he will seek re-election, but Matsumoto has said little publicly. Henney said on Thursday he plans to campaign for a City Council seat but would consider a mayoral bid if Thomas does not seek re-election and Beerman does not mount a second bid for the office.

Matsumoto in 2013 had already said she would seek re-election by the last 10 days of April. The other incumbent City Councilor on the 2013 ballot, Alex Butwinski, had also already declared himself a candidate by the last 10 days of the month.

The City Hall campaign in 2017 is expected to center on well-established issues in Park City like growth, traffic, work force or otherwise restricted housing and the local economy. A primary would be held Aug. 15 in the mayoral contest if more than two people seek the office while a primary would be held that day in the City Council campaign if more than four people are on the ballot. Election Day is Nov. 7.

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