Park City councilors denounce fellow elected official amid Black Lives Matter mural, soils strains

A rare public fracturing unfolds as Becca Gerber and Max Doilney target comments by Nann Worel

The Marsac Building.
Park Record file photo

Park City Councilors Becca Gerber and Max Doilney are not on the ballot this year.

But they entered the election fray last weekend anyway.

In a guest editorial published in The Park Record, the two denounced another member of the City Council, Nann Worel. Gerber and Doilney wrote the piece in response to an earlier one authored by Worel about transparency at the Marsac Building. Worel was one of three people on the mayoral primary ballot on Tuesday, competing against incumbent Mayor Andy Beerman and investment banker David Dobkin to advance to Election Day in November.

There have been community questions in the last year-plus regarding City Hall transparency. Critics have especially seized on the discussions that led to the creation of social justice murals on the Main Street asphalt on Independence Day in 2020 and the ongoing talks about the municipal government’s concept to build a facility along the S.R. 248 entryway to store soils containing silver mining-era contaminants.

The social justice murals, particularly one that carried a Black Lives Matter message, and the discussions about a facility known as a repository have been especially contentious. There was support and displeasure with the murals while the input regarding the repository has been broadly in opposition.

Some of the criticism from rank-and-file Parkites has centered on City Hall processes and what many considered to be a lack of publicity. In both cases, City Hall published information about the municipal government’s intentions, but many in the community appeared to be blindsided nonetheless.

The opinion piece published by Gerber and Doilney is a rare public airing of questions targeting a mayor or member of the City Council by other seated elected officials. Mayors and city councilors over the years have differed in their backgrounds, politics and interests, but it is highly unusual for them to publicly denounce one another.

The two city councilors wrote “it is not accurate for Nann to claim that there was no public process” regarding the murals. In discussing the repository concept, they wrote that “for Nann to suggest that Andy curtailed any discussion or direction is not true.”

They cover some of the process involved in the murals and the repository.

“We value our good working relationship with our fellow councilors but, in this case, we felt our integrity had been questioned, events had been skewed and our staff was misrepresented. We find it disingenuous and misleading to the public to suggest that we are not acting transparently,” the two wrote.

Another member of the City Council, Steve Joyce, who is not seeking reelection, said in an interview he declined to sign the opinion piece. He said there is some accuracy in the Gerber-Doilney guest editorial, though, regarding City Council processes.

City Councilor Tim Henney, who was on the City Council primary ballot, said he was not asked to sign the piece.

It is too early to anticipate whether the piece will influence the dynamics of the elected officials. They remain on a City Council hiatus until later in August. Worel’s seat on the City Council runs through early 2024, the same as those held by Gerber and Doilney, meaning she would be expected to serve alongside the two for another two-plus years if she is unsuccessful in the mayoral bid. If Worel wins the mayor’s office, the two city councilors would be in office at least the first two years of her administration.

The fracturing of the City Council comes amid a time of tension as Parkites worry about issues like growth, traffic, housing and the cost of living, and the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus continues to heighten the tensions. The rest of the City Hall election season will likely center on topics like those.

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