Park City mayoral field pledges support for Latinos | ParkRecord.com

Park City mayoral field pledges support for Latinos

Candidates want largest minority group to be welcomed

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

The three Park City mayoral candidates, from left, Dana Williams, Andy Beerman and Roger Armstrong, addressed issues like supporting the Latino population, the Treasure development proposal and housing during a forum on Main Street Thursday evening. The forum was held as ballots for the Aug. 15 primary arrive in voter mailboxes.

The Park City mayoral candidates during a campaign forum on Thursday evening expressed support for the community's Latino population, briefly addressing issues important to the city's largest minority group in front of an audience that was almost exclusively white.

Latino issues are typically not at the forefront of City Hall campaigns, but there has been more interest in topics like immigration in the months since President Trump won the White House followed by a high-profile Immigration and Customs Enforcement action in Park City shortly after the president took office. It is estimated Latinos account for up to 25 percent of the population of Park City.

The three candidates – Roger Armstrong, Andy Beerman and Dana Williams – appeared at a League of Women Voters forum at the J GO Gallery on Main Street and addressed Latino issues in response to a question from the league. The candidates indicated they back the Latino community but provided different ideas.

Beerman told the audience Latino issues have become "urgent" based on the Trump administration's toughened immigration policies. He said he is proud of the progress made at City Hall with the Latino community and said he wants Latinos to be safe in Park City.

"We can create a welcoming environment," Beerman said.

Armstrong said his wife, People's Health Clinic Executive Director Beth Armstrong, receives calls quickly when an immigration action occurs in Park City. He said there is legal assistance available to immigrant families.

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"It's a human issue. It's not just an employment issue," Armstrong said.

Williams, meanwhile, said care should be used when saying the term "Latino community" since there are various segments of Latinos in Park City. Williams said a Latino advisory council should be created and City Hall should address immigration issues with the federal government.

The mayoral candidates addressed a wide range of issues during the forum, which drew an audience of at least 60, discussing growth, traffic, the role of the mayor and housing. The forum took place as voters inside Park City began receiving ballots in the mail. The Aug. 15 primary will be conducted with mail-in balloting. Two of the three candidates will advance to Election Day in November.

There appears to be strong interest in the primary as three top-tier figures are competing for one of the spots on the November ballot. Armstrong is a second-term member of the Summit County Council. Beerman is serving a second term as a member of the Park City Council. Williams served three terms as the mayor ending in early 2014. The broad platform issues are similar between the three, but the candidates differ in their solutions as well as their leadership style.

The forum was heavily weighted toward questions culled from the audience prior to the start. There was a mix of ages and professions at the event, and there were longtime Parkites and newcomers listening to the candidates. The questions generally dwelled on well-known Park City issues.

At one point, the candidates were asked about the Treasure development proposal on a hillside overlooking Old Town along the route of the Town Lift. Treasure is not expected to be an issue for the next mayor, though, since an earlier group of Park City's elected officials removed future mayors and Park City Councils from a Treasure role as part of an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a conservation purchase of the acreage. Treasure remains a divisive topic, though, that will likely continue to be addressed through the campaign.

Beerman said he is "very, very worried" about the impacts of Treasure, such as the traffic the project is expected to draw and the construction. Armstrong mentioned the Treasure excavation and said he has "no earthly idea" how Treasure will properly address traffic. Williams, who wore a Treasure opposition group's hat during the forum, called Treasure "the worst project that's ever hit us as a community" and predicted Treasure will eventually be decided in the court system.

"It's about time for things to hit the fan," Williams said about Treasure.

Some of the other topics addressed at the forum included:

  • Armstrong saying a "more visionary mayor" is needed and City Hall's goals are currently aspirational but must be accomplished. He said the mayor of Park City has the ability to guide policy and "tease out issues." As an example, Armstrong noted, plans to build restricted affordable housing could increase the population of Park City by 25 percent. Appropriate solutions are needed, he said.
  • Beerman contending the desires of the Park City community are aligned with the work of the mayor and City Council, saying officials are taking action instead of continuing to study issues. He said there are plans to address energy, housing and transit, and Armstrong and Williams should attend City Hall meetings to learn about the municipal work plan.
  • Williams saying restricted affordable housing projects should be smaller in scope and located in neighborhoods that already exist. He said larger projects seem to advance an ideal of "so we can put all them somewhere."