Park City Councilors sworn into office during joyous ceremony
Two new members of the Park City Council were sworn into office and an incumbent took the oath for a second time in front of a welcoming crowd on Monday evening at the Marsac Building, a joy-filled occasion held just days before the elected officials are scheduled to address a range of issues during the first regular meeting of the year.
Kara Pettit, a 3rd District Court judge assigned to the Silver Summit courtroom, administered the oaths of office to Andy Beerman, Nann Worel and Becca Gerber, the three winners on Election Day in November. Beerman is serving his second term while Worel and Gerber are freshmen City Councilors. Terms are for four years ending in early 2020.
Worel, who lives in the Hidden Oaks neighborhood, had been a member of the Park City Planning Commission and is a not-for-profit executive. Gerber, a resident of the Iron Horse district, had been a member of City Hall’s Recreation Advisory Board and is a marketing director for a ski shop.
The ceremony on Monday drew a crowd that packed into the City Council chambers. Family and friends of the three joined City Hall staffers, members of municipal panels, past elected officials and others inside the room. Pettit’s remarks prior to administering the oaths touched on the historical importance of the oath of office, describing that it was included in the first law of the United States.
Many people in the crowd snapped photos as the three raised their hands to take the oath. The City Councilors received a standing ovation afterward. The City Council was not scheduled to conduct other business on Monday. Worel quickly made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Gerber seconded the motion.
Worel and Gerber are scheduled to attend their first City Council meeting as elected officials on Thursday. The agenda for the meeting, a lengthy one, includes a discussion about arts and cultural initiatives, a scheduled vote on a series licenses for corporate or similar setups during the Sundance Film Festival and a scheduled vote on an extension of a tourism joint venture between City Hall and the Park City Chamber/Bureau. Earlier in the day, the elected officials are scheduled to participate in a ceremony dedicating the Bob Wells Memorial Plaza on Swede Alley.
Worel and Gerber prepared to take their seats over the past two months, talking with numerous City Hall staffers and attending a series of meetings. Both of them ascend to the City Council from positions on municipal panels, giving them a background on City Hall procedures and policies. The Planning Commission, seen as ranking second in influence of City Hall’s panels to the City Council, has been a springboard to elected office in Park City for years while the Recreation Advisory Board deals with important issues like athletic facilities and programs.
In an interview earlier on Monday, Gerber said she wants to press issues like housing early in her term by "adding some urgency to the affordable-housing discussion." She mentioned the prospects of developing housing on City Hall-owned parcels along the lower Park Avenue corridor and that she does not want an idea to develop a community center to sidetrack the discussions about housing. Gerber said, perhaps, residential units available for annual and seasonal rentals could be possible on lower Park Avenue. She has not crafted detailed ideas for the individual parcels, though.
Gerber said the company where she works, Aloha Ski & Snowboard Rentals, suffered a shortage in workers over the holidays. She blamed housing issues for much of the shortage.
"I feel like it’s very acute now," Gerber said.
Gerber said she also supports City Hall’s efforts to further reduce carbon emissions, a pledge made by the elected officials late in 2015. Gerber said Park City’s local efforts can have a "big global impact," noting that Park City’s economy, driven by skiing, as well as the area’s water supply, rely on winter.
"Our life here is very dependent on the snowpack," Gerber said.
Worel said in an interview she has learned about the services provided by municipal departments, such as the amount of resources the Park City Police Department puts toward special events. Worel said she supports the City Council’s current set of priorities and said she continues to learn about the municipal government.
"It’s a big responsibility. I’m up for it. I’m excited about it," Worel said.
Gerber and Worel succeed the retired City Councilors Liza Simpson and Dick Peek. They did not seek re-election. The City Council seats held by Cindy Matsumoto and Tim Henney are not on the ballot until 2017. The mayor’s office is also on the 2017 ballot.
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Park City at the start of 2021 is preparing for the return of numerous special events, something that could help reignite Park City’s tourism-heavy economy and re-create some of the energy that was lacking in 2020.