Statehouse competitors talk traffic, development in Park City

Summit County Council and Utah House of Representatives candidates gather at the Santy Auditorium on Friday for a forum hosted by the Park City Realtors. From left: Tal Adair and Glenn Wright, who are competing for a two-year County Council seat, Rudi Kohler and Tim Quinn, the candidates in District 54 of the Utah House of Representatives, and Colin DeFord and Doug Clyde, who are challenging for a four-year County Council seat.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

The two competitors in District 54 of the Utah House of Representatives made an appearance in Park City on Friday, generally splitting their opinions during a candidate forum that touched on topics like property rights and traffic on state highways in the Park City area.

Tim Quinn, a Republican from Wasatch County, and Rudi Kohler, a Democrat who is also from Wasatch County, were two of the candidates to gather at the Santy Auditorium during a forum hosted by the Park City Board of Realtors. It was the first time they appeared together at an event in Park City.

The event, moderated by Bob Richer, a Democrat who has served in elected office in Park City and Summit County, was weighted toward issues of importance to the real estate industry. The issues were broad enough, though, to interest those in the audience without ties to the industry.

District 54 encompasses Park City, parts of the Snyderville Basin and all of Wasatch County. The incumbent, Republican Kraig Powell, ended a re-election bid in the spring amid worries about a divisive contest for the GOP nomination.

The state highways that serve as Park City’s entryways – S.R. 224 and S.R. 248 – were addressed on Friday. There have long been complaints about traffic on both of them even as state transportation officials and local leaders have crafted various operational modifications.

Quinn did not provide a detailed plan for the state highways, telling the crowd he would gather input from the community and then work with the Utah Department of Transportation to devise a strategy and secure funding.

Kohler countered that he supports the use of satellite parking lots in the Park City area. He said dedicating lanes for carpools or other vehicles with more than one person inside is sensible.

They also spoke about traffic in the legislative district. Kohler said traffic is worsening in Heber City while Quinn said the traffic is much worse in other places he has lived, such as Atlanta.

The two, meanwhile, seemed to agree as they addressed the topic of the state’s role in development matters at the local level, particularly in a scenario of a landowner claiming property rights were violated. The scenario resembled a hotly contested development dispute that unfolded in the Park City area and resulted in the development of a film studio at Quinn’s Junction. Quinn said he prefers that development decisions be made by leaders in cities and counties. Kohler also said he would defer to city and county leaders.

Other topics broached at the event included whether Kohler would be effective at the Capitol as a Democrat in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. He said he would not compromise on his principles if he is elected. Quinn spoke about his decision to challenge Powell for the Republican nomination, saying he disagreed with some of the incumbent’s positions. Quinn described himself as more conservative than Powell.

The County Council candidates also touched on a variety of topics at the Santy Auditorium. Tal Adair, a Republican seeking a two-year term, acknowledged a divide between the Park City area and the East Side. He said people who live on the more agrarian East Side are worried they are losing influence in County Courthouse decisions. Democrat Glenn Wright, who is seeking the two-year seat against Adair, said he would support a change in the makeup of the County Council with four districts and one countywide position.

Doug Clyde, a Democrat campaigning for a four-year County Council term, and his Republican opponent, Colin DeFord, agreed that tourism promotion is important since the industry is critical to the economy.

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