It is well past Miners Day, the traditional launch of the Park City election season, and candidate signs are starting to be seen around the city.
The Park City Council campaign has been subdued since early in the summer, when a primary election was cancelled after enough candidates dropped out of the running for a variety of reasons. There were too few candidates left to force a primary.
Election Day in November offers Park City residents a range of candidates nonetheless. Two of the incumbents whose seats are on the ballot did not seek re-election, meaning that at least two new City Councilors will be sworn into office in early January.
Andy Beerman, a first term City Councilor, is seeking a second term. The others on the ballot are Hope Melville, Dan Portwood, Rory Murphy, Becca Gerber and Nann Worel. All but Portwood have experience at City Hall. The others have served on a variety of municipal boards and commissions like the Planning Commission, the Historic Preservation Board and the Recreation Advisory Board.
There does not seem to be an overriding issue this election season like some years in the past, when the recession or the proposed Treasure development overlooking Old Town spurred voter interest. In the six weeks until Election Day, it is likely the candidates will stress a variety of issues like growth, traffic, historic preservation, the local economy and housing. They are topics that Park City candidates have addressed for years, but solutions remain difficult.
The six candidates are scheduled to participate as a group in at least two events in October. The Park City Board of Realtors organized the first one, slated for Oct. 2. The candidate forum is set for noon in the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library and Education Center. It is a public event. The Park City Rotary Club, meanwhile, is scheduled to hear from the candidates during its Oct. 13 meeting. It seems likely other organizations will schedule candidate events as Election Day nears.
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Candidate capsules follow: Beerman is a first-term member of the City Council. He is competing in his third campaign in four years after unsuccessfully seeking the mayor’s office in 2013. Beerman and his wife are the principal owners and managers of the Treasure Mountain Inn on Main Street. He has lived in Park City since 1995. Beerman once served as the leader of the Historic Park City Alliance, a group that served the interests of businesses on or close to Main Street. Beerman has said his campaign stresses issues like socioeconomic diversity, broadening City Hall’s use of renewable energies and developing what he describes as "vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods . . . that aren’t tourist based." Gerber brings a diverse background of public and not-for-profit service to the campaign, serving on City Hall’s Recreation Advisory Board and working for the Park Silly Sunday Market. She is also the director of sales and marketing at a ski shop. Gerber, who is in her 30s, meanwhile, says she represents a younger generation of Parkites who want a voice at the Marsac Building. Gerber grew up in Park City and has said her campaign will involve issues like ensuring living in Park City is "open to a wider range of demographics." Gerber wants City Hall to explore a range of housing options, including affordable, attainable, seasonal and work force. Melville is a member of City Hall’s Old Town panel, the Historic Preservation Board, which deals with design issues and other topics in the neighborhood. She is a retired attorney who practiced intellectual property law and was a chemical engineer early in her career. Melville has said she is interested in "keeping Park City Park City," using a statement that has been widely circulated in the community as Park City residents consider the future. She has also said she wants Park City to remain a fun place. Melville has said Parkites see "construction going on everywhere" and there is considerable development pressure on Park City. She also has said housing is a concern in the city. Murphy is a developer in Park City who is a veteran of major projects like Empire Pass and Silver Star. He is currently the lead developer of the Rio Grande project in Old Town. Murphy is also a former member of the Park City Planning Commission. He is the chairman of the Park City School District steering committee considering the future of development within the district. Murphy has said he is concerned about "the availability of work force housing given the economic pressures on housing throughout the city." He has also said issues like community development and communications between major parties in Park City will be important to his campaign. Portwood is the director of administrative services for Nutraceutical, managing facilities and assets for the company. He has acknowledged his history of public service in Park City has been limited, saying he raised a family of six kids and built a career. Portwood has said he wants City Hall processes streamlined, indicating it takes too long for the municipal government to process some applications. He has said he wants City Hall "to be business friendly and builder friendly." He has also said traffic and transportation are critical issues. Portwood has said perhaps reversible lanes could be created along the S.R. 248 entryway to address rush hour traffic. Portwood campaigned in the 2009 mayoral election with little success. He has said he will campaign more intensely this year. Worel is a member of the Planning Commission and the executive director of the People’s Health Clinic, a not-for-profit organization that provides medical services to the uninsured. She was involved in the past with the Peace House domestic violence shelter as a member of an advisory board. Worel has said the overall performance of the municipal government is "amazing," but, she added at the time, "sometimes things just fall through the cracks." Worel has said her campaign will include a platform plank involving issues like congestion, parking and managing growth, three topics that are related. She has also said she wants to maintain Park City’s mining heritage through protecting mining-era relics that are deteriorating.