Park City councilor ‘personally attacked’ after Black Lives Matter mural appeared, email shows
A 2020 message from Nann Worel, now a mayoral contender, highlights controversy
Park City Councilor Nann Worel, currently campaigning for the mayor’s office, in July of 2020 drafted a message to Park City Manager Matt Dias critical of the process that led to the creation of social justice murals on the Main Street asphalt just days earlier, illuminating some of the internal friction within the municipal government regarding the polarizing murals.
Mayor Andy Beerman on Sunday released a cache of internal communications related to the mural controversy. The communications were compiled in response to a request by a private citizen using the state Government Records Access and Management Act and then provided to the media in addition to the citizen.
The Worel email is especially notable in the weeks before Park City voters will decide between herself and Beerman in the mayoral election. She sent the message a little bit after 9 p.m. on July 6, 2020, two days after the murals were created on Independence Day.
There was little publicity prior to the creation of the murals, including a giant one with a Black Lives Matter message, and many in the community were unaware they were to be put on Main Street on the holiday.
City Hall by the time of the Worel email, which was also sent to other elected officials and high-ranking municipal staffers, had crafted a set of talking points to use in answering inquiries about the murals. Worel addressed the email to City Manager Matt Dias.
“Sorry Matt but I just can’t go with these talking points for several reasons. This is now in our lap because of a decision you and Mayor Andy made without consulting the Council,” Worel said in the email.
She said she was “ready and willing” to discuss the topic, “but what just happened didn’t further that conversation and instead created division.” Worel said staffers did not indicate “the scope and degree of the political messaging…”
“We, as a Council, should have been informed of what the artists were asked to produce. We weren’t so we were caught flat footed. Painting political messages down Main Street was bound to be divisive. We pride ourselves on including our residents in decisions and I am at a loss why that didn’t happen in these crazy political times,” she said.
Another key excerpt from the Worel email said the process undertaken regarding the murals “deepened the divide. Again, I am a chief proponent of Social Equity but this isn’t the way to push it forward. We can do better.”
In another email from Worel, sent earlier the same day to City Councilor Tim Henney, she described the reaction she received to the murals. She said she was “personally attacked” at a country club “for the messages being painted on Main Street.”
“In fact, yesterday’s attack was the most angry and vicious that I have heard since I was first elected to Council,” she said, adding, “I have been called a Communist, Marxist and Socialist (well okay-the last one probably applies) and had someone threaten to paint messages on my driveway.”
The messages from Worel were different in tone from one she sent on July 4 itself to Sarah Pearce, one of the deputy Park City managers. In that email, sent a little bit after 10 a.m. and before the controversy erupted about the murals later that day, Worel said she was “SO excited about the murals and will definitely be down at some point this weekend to check them out. Thanks for all of your work to make it happen in such a short period of time!”
Worel in an interview said the July 4 email to Pearce was drafted with the belief that the social justice works were to resemble sidewalk chalk art rather than the scale of the actual works.
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The Park City Council will soon be short one member and Parkites will have an opportunity to take the seat with no campaign required. Officials on Tuesday are scheduled to hold an event designed for people who are considering submitting their name as a candidate for the appointment.