Park City mayor will retire, ending months of speculation
Jack Thomas outlines aggressive agenda for remaining time in office
THE PARK RECORD
Mayor Jack Thomas said on Monday he would not seek re-election to a second term, ending months of speculation about his political plans and creating an opening in Park City’s top elected position as the official start of the campaign approaches.
Thomas, who is 71 and lives in Park Meadows, won the mayor’s office in 2013 after having served as a member of the Park City Planning Commission for approximately eight years. He is an architect. Thomas had provided few clues to his intentions in recent months, as chatter started about the possibility of others seeking the office. Roger Armstrong, a Summit County Councilor, has indicated he would mount a mayoral bid. Armstrong was the first to declare himself a candidate.
Thomas ascended to the mayor’s office after beating Andy Beerman, a member of the Park City Council, in the 2013 campaign. It was a tense if not bruising campaign to succeed Dana Williams, a three-term mayor who remained popular but opted against seeking a fourth term.
“I hope whomever comes after me remembers that it’s not about them, it’s about Park City, it’s about all of us,” Thomas said. “And being mayor is relatively easy in terms of day to day. But being a leader is difficult.”
Thomas has guided Park City through a challenging three-plus years. He took office amid the high-profile lawsuit that resulted in the sale of Park City Mountain Resort to Colorado-based Vail Resorts and played a key role in City Hall’s response to what was increasing acrimony in the community as the lawsuit continued and then settled. He was then a pivotal figure as Vail Resorts solidified its presence in Park City by combining PCMR and Canyons Resort into a single property. He also was crucial to the discussions regarding Vail Resorts’ pursuit of a federal trademark for the name ‘Park City’ as it applies to a mountain resort, applying pressure alongside community opposition before the firm abandoned the efforts.
Thomas, meanwhile, led Park City as it pursued an agenda heavy on issues like housing, energy and combating traffic. City Hall has notably been aggressive in its plans to develop work force or otherwise restricted housing on municipally controlled parcels as well as acquiring units.
City Hall watchers have awaited the decision from Thomas for months. He said little about his leanings recently as he deflected questions about another campaign. It seems likely the decision by Thomas will allow others to finalize their political plans. The one-term administration of Thomas will be the shortest in at least a generation. Williams served 12 years and his predecessor, Brad Olch, also was in office for 12 years.
Although Armstrong was the first to announce a mayoral bid, there has been talk about the potential of other high-profile figures seeking the office as well. Beerman, who remains a member of the City Council, said recently he will mount a second bid for the mayor’s office if Thomas does not seek re-election. There has also been speculation that Williams could campaign again for the office. Williams has not spoken publicly about a mayoral campaign this year.
Thomas on Monday outlined an aggressive agenda for the remaining months of his term. The winner on Election Day will be sworn into office in early January. He said he wants City Hall to finish a housing development on the 1400 block of Park Avenue and wants an additional 10 units to be occupied at the Park City Heights development close to Quinn’s Junction. Thomas said he also hopes construction commences on 13 units on City Hall land on or close to the lower Park Avenue corridor, known as Woodside Park, and work advances significantly on plans to build another 55 units of housing in that area. He said he wants a design completed for a City Hall housing project at The Yard by the time he leaves office.
The mayor said he wants progress made on plans for a high-occupancy vehicle lane on S.R. 248 and on the anticipated expansion of bus routes to Salt Lake City and in the greater Park City area. Thomas said continuing City Hall’s environmental work during the remainder of his administration is also a priority.
Thomas said he will continue diversity efforts as well, saying that Park City remains a “split community.” Many Latinos, he said, are “living in tough conditions” and are underserved and underrepresented.
“We can’t pat ourselves on the back here until all of us are doing better,” he said.
There are also two City Council seats on the ballot, now held by Cindy Matsumoto and Tim Henney. Matsumoto will not seek re-election while Henney intends to campaign for another term. Steve Joyce, a member of the Planning Commission, has said he will campaign for a City Council spot. Josh Hobson, an activist and service-industry worker, also has started a City Council campaign. The filing window for the City Hall campaign runs from June 1 until June 7.
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The Park City Council on Thursday declared June as Pride Month, indicating it fits well with City Hall’s social equity efforts and acknowledging the proclamation was at least partially inspired by a recent controversy in Heber City regarding the flying of rainbow flags.