Park City mayor assures Latinos as Trump presidency nears
He says local leaders will support, not intimidate, minority population
Jack Thomas, the mayor of Park City, on Friday evening delivered a short address to an audience heavily weighted toward Latinos, likening his experience in Park City in some ways to theirs and affirming to the crowd that they are members of the community.
It was a rare public address by the mayor to a gathering of the Park City’s area’s most notable minority group. The Friday evening remarks were made at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the Snyderville Basin during a gathering focused on immigration issues. St. Mary’s Catholic Church has long been seen as the religious home of Park City’s Latino community. A little more than 100 people were in the audience.
The mayor’s comments, which were translated into Spanish as he spoke, centered on the ideal that Latinos are welcome in Park City.
“We’re all fundamental in the operation of this great city. And so thank you for being a part of this whole,” Thomas said.
He talked about his background in Park City, saying he began years ago washing dishes and digging ditches in the community. He later learned how to frame buildings, perform finishing work in the construction trade and work on the electrical systems of projects. He eventually became an architect and, later, mounted a successful campaign for the city’s top elected office.
“Latinos began arriving in Park City in large numbers since 1990, drawn by a robust economy and the prospects of employment. Just like me,” Thomas said.
The gathering was held in the weeks after Election Day, and there has been a concern among Latinos about tighter enforcement of immigration laws during the administration of Donald Trump. The event was not political in nature, but there seemed to be undertones related to the incoming administration. Some of the publicity materials announcing the forum mentioned the election.
“There may be some concerns with some of you, and I understand that. But we are here to support you, we are here to serve you. We are not here to intimidate you. We are here to be your friends and welcome you all,” Thomas said.
The forum was held in Spanish with only occasional translation into English. Panelists included members of the Park City Police Department and a representative of the Mexican consulate in Salt Lake City.
In an interview afterward, Gabriel Gil, a consular agent in the Mexican consulate, said there are worries about the incoming administration among people from Mexico living in the area.
“They’re concerned they’re getting deported, if there’s going to be a general action,” Gil said.
He said the consulate explains to Mexicans in the state that U.S. laws will need to be changed if the president-elect wants to remove benefits now afforded people from Mexico. He said the consulate also explains there is a procedure that is required before someone can be deported from the U.S.
“We try to tell them to be prepared, know the laws in their community,” Gil said.
The forum was held as City Hall officials attempt to assure Park City Latinos there will not be changes in the relations between the local government and the Latino community as the Trump administration assumes office in January. The mayor has made strong public statements since Election Day indicating the operations of City Hall regarding immigration issues and the enforcement of immigration laws will not be altered.
The mayor has said he plans to draft a letter to the congressional delegation that represents Park City by the end of the year addressing the prospects of tightened federal immigration policies during the Trump administration.
Glenn Wright, a Democratic Summit County Councilor-elect, was in the audience and said in an interview afterward he was pleased with comments made by Police Department representatives regarding their desire to help people and enforce local rules rather than immigration laws. He said the message seemed to resonate.
“The people you see here are vital for our community,” Wright said, adding, “They’re as much vital residents of Park City and Summit County as I am.”
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Park City intends to soon seat an internal task force that will study issues within the municipal government itself related to the LGBTQ community.