Park City candidates for the first time must either pay for ballot access or collect signatures
City Hall describes election restrictions meant to show commitment by the politicians
A candidate in the City Hall election this year must pay a filing fee or collect enough signatures before they are entered into the contest, a tightening of ballot access approved in 2020 that is designed to ensure political hopefuls are committed to a campaign.
A review of the ballot access requirements was one of the highlights of a City Hall-hosted event on Tuesday that provided an overview of the mechanics of the election. The mayor’s office and two Park City Council seats will be decided in November.
The ballot access requirements set a $150 filing fee for mayoral candidates and a $100 filing fee for candidates for the City Council. Candidates can have the fee waived if they collect at least 100 signatures from people who are registered to vote within the Park City limits. A City Hall-provided nomination form must be used in the signature gathering and the signatures must be collected prior to a candidate filing to run for office.
It is not clear which route the majority of candidates will select since the process will debut this year. It seems that many potential candidates would be able to meet either of the requirements. The 2021 campaign is the first under the new rules regarding ballot access.
Mayor Andy Beerman has not announced whether he will seek reelection to a second term. The two City Council seats on the ballot are currently held by Tim Henney and Steve Joyce. Henney has indicated he plans to seek reelection to a third term while Joyce has said he will retire from the City Council after one term. There has been little chatter about other potential candidates and nobody else is known to have declared themselves a candidate. The window when someone must file campaign paperwork runs from June 1 until June 7.
The event on Tuesday, held online as Park City leaders continue to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, appeared to draw a small crowd. The gathering was meant to provide the basics of a municipal campaign and offer the experiences of previous elected officials.
Someone must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 on Election Day and have lived inside the Park City limits for at least 12 consecutive months prior to Election Day to be eligible to run for office in the city. They also must be a registered voter inside the city.
If more that two people seek the mayor’s office, a primary would be held to reduce the field to two for Election Day. A primary would be needed in the City Council contest if more than four people mount campaigns. Any primary election would be held Aug. 10. Election Day is Nov. 2. It will be a vote-by-mail election with ballots mailed July 20 for a primary and Oct. 12 for the general election.
Park City Recorder Michelle Kellogg, who serves as Park City’s election official, noted the new ballot access requirements in her comments. She said the Summit County Clerk’s Office will verify the signatures should a candidate opt for that route to the ballot. She recommended a candidate collect more than the required 100 signatures to ensure there are enough should some be deemed not to be valid through the verification process.
The campaign is expected to center on a range of issues like the recovery from the economic impacts of the coronavirus, growth, traffic and affordability. It is not known how the politicking will unfold in the first City Hall campaign of the coronavirus era. Many candidates in earlier municipal elections conducted door-to-door campaigns, but that could be complicated this year depending on the state of the pandemic as the political season nears.
Some of the speakers on Tuesday were onetime elected officials, including former Mayor Jack Thomas and Cindy Matsumoto, who once served on the City Council.
Thomas said a Park City mayor must be inclusive and transparent.
“You need to be the voice of the broader community,” he said of someone who wants to be the mayor, adding that a mayor must also possess a “sense of compassion.”
Matsumoto talked about the need to juggle a career with service as an elected official and said there is a significant learning curve for a city councilor.
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A former mayor of Park City, Jack Thomas, recently testified at a Park City Planning Commission meeting regarding the concept for a major development at Snow Park, essentially praising the overarching vision but cautioning the review will likely be extensive.