Park City mayor’s race offers top figures, but pitfalls may await them
Each of the candidates must prove themselves even with strong backgrounds
THE PARK RECORD
The campaign for the Park City mayor’s office, the top of the ticket this year, drew three candidates with impressive backgrounds and immediate name recognition.
Each has won elected office before and each is expected to have built-in voter support as an August primary looms to reduce the field to two for Election Day in November.
Dana Williams, Andy Beerman and Roger Armstrong have, combined, won seven elections since 2001. Two of them – Williams and Armstrong – were re-elected once without a challenger, a testament to their popularity at the time.
But Election 2017 is expected to be a far different campaign than the earlier ones as the makeup of Park City has changed over time and the issues, although generally similar to those of the past 20 years, could be more nuanced than in previous City Hall elections.
The three mayoral candidates must prepare for a campaign in which their records will almost certainly be challenged and their vision of Park City’s future will be closely scrutinized. The three candidates will need to prove themselves in certain ways and at the same time avoid campaign pitfalls. The lack of a primary election in the Park City Council campaign will even further spotlight the mayoral contest.
- Armstrong, a second-term Summit County Councilor who lives in Aspen Springs, may have the most to prove of the three candidates.Armstrong, who is an attorney in the entertainment industry, has won elected office in countywide campaigns, but a City Hall election is a far different political contest.
His most significant challenge, and potential barrier to winning, is showing voters that his time at the County Courthouse prepares him for a position at the Marsac Building. The issues between Park City and Summit County, like growth, traffic and the environment, are similar, but the two jurisdictions have addressed them differently.
Voters inside Park City could pin what they see as sprawling development patterns in the Snyderville Basin on a candidate who served in elected office in Summit County.
Park City residents over the years also have, anecdotally, generally seen City Hall as a better managed and more progressive governmental entity than the County Courthouse. He will need to explain the successes of Summit County and tell voters how he will build upon those at the Marsac Building.
Armstrong will need to avoid a campaign scenario that paints him as a Park City outsider based on his County Courthouse experience. He also probably needs to show a progressive streak that is not necessarily required of candidates in countywide campaigns.
- Beerman, who is in his second term as a member of the Park City Council and unsuccessfully sought the mayor’s office in 2013, needs to outline an argument that he is the best choice for the position four years after voters said otherwise.Beerman is a Main Street businessman with holdings at the Treasure Mountain Inn and once led the group that represents businesses on or just off Main Street. Although a businessman, Beerman also has an extensive background in environmentalism. The Treasure Mountain Inn, as an example, has been honored for its green programs.
A key challenge for Beerman is ensuring the campaign remains on a message touting the successes of City Hall during his time in office, something that proved difficult for him in 2013 as election-season distractions put him on the defensive. He acknowledged recently critics characterized him in 2013 as being pro-development even though he sees himself as a longtime supporter of acquiring land for conservation purposes.
Beerman likely must run a campaign that centers on the progress City Hall has made on issues like housing, the economy and environmentalism, particularly in the nearly four years since competitor Williams left office. Beerman could tout work force or otherwise affordable housing projects pursued by City Hall during his tenure as well as the broadening of the municipal government’s environmental programs.
- Williams, who served three terms as the mayor ending in early 2014, must make a series of arguments to voters as he attempts to return to office.There are few who would dispute the overall success of his administration, which covered the post-2002 Winter Olympic era, the economic boom of a decade ago and then the recession. He tactfully guided Park City through 12 crucial years of change that saw a renewed emphasis on community matters after the Games and a significant broadening of City Hall’s environmental programs.
Williams will need to demonstrate he will be able to recapture Park City’s good feelings of his administration and at the same time, and probably more importantly, outline a platform for the future. Many of the challenges of his administration – housing and traffic, as examples — remain the difficulties of today as well. Williams will likely be confronted by critics questioning how much progress was actually made during his 12 years if the issues remain so pronounced.
Some could attempt to paint him as a figure from a previous era whose experience at the Marsac Building is not as relevant to Park City of today as it was four or 12 years ago. Another popular previous mayor who sought a return to office, Brad Olch, was dismissed in the 2009 campaign by Williams himself.
Becca Gerber, a first-term member of the Park City Council who is seen as bringing a younger person’s perspective to the Marsac Building, will seek reelection this year.