Park Record 2018 Voter Guide: Summit County Council Seat D
With Election Day approaching, and mail-in ballots on their way to residents, The Park Record asked candidates to answer a series of questions in their own words in order to help voters make informed decisions. View the answers of candidates in other races here.
Why are you seeking another term on the Summit County Council and what are your qualifications to serve?
Chris Robinson (Incumbent Democrat, unopposed): I am now completing my tenth year on the Summit County Council. I continue to enjoy serving this great community and feel that there is much that I still have to contribute. I have broad knowledge and experience in real estate, water, land use, development, agriculture, conservation, renewable energy, finance, accounting, negotiation, problem solving, and local government.
Is the County Council committing enough resources toward the affordable and workforce housing shortage? If not, how would you suggest increasing support?
Robinson: We’ve made some pretty serious in-roads into affordable and workforce housing, including entitling the Discovery project on Kilby Road, 300+ units at Silver Creek Village, the 20 units at Whole Foods, and the housing for 1,107 employees at Canyons.
We have also purchased the so called 29-acre Cline Dahle parcel on Rasmussen Road, a portion of which will likely be used for affordable housing once the Jeremy Interchange is rebuilt next year. And we likely will use a portion of the 461-acre Florence Gillmor parcel (under contract to purchase) near Home Depot on the frontage road east side of US 40 for affordable housing.
I believe the next step in our evolution of creating affordable and workforce housing should come from our building ourselves or seeking developer partners to build affordable and workforce housing on the Cline Dahle, Gillmor, and other parcels that we may acquire in the future.
The County Council has approved a property tax increase, as well as two sales-tax hikes since 2017. Both decisions were unanimous. How do you justify the increases to constituents?
Robinson: The General Fund property tax levy hadn’t been raised in the last 20 years or more because growth in the tax base had provided the necessary funds to maintain service levels, which is no longer the case. The increase was necessary to recoup lost purchasing power due to inflation, to maintain service levels, and to replenish fund balances drawn down mainly by capital projects.
Even with these increases in both the General Fund and Municipal Fund levies, Summit County still has one of the lowest tax rates in the State.
The sales tax increases were all earmarked for transportation and transit improvements, which are two of our biggest issues. The Council is committed to practical and effective solutions to increase modes of transportation. We also believe that the sales tax is a good mechanism for raising these needed funds because they are not on fuel or unprepared food and are mostly paid by our visitors.
The County Council has found itself at odds with the state Legislature in the past on issues related to public lands, the environment and funding for education, among others. How have you helped improve relations with state elected officials and has that resulted in the county’s interests being better reflected on Capitol Hill? What areas still need more focus?
Robinson: Our relationship with the Legislature is much improved when compared to my first years in office when well healed special interests were trying to use the Legislature to get their way.
I doubt that Summit County will ever be in total sync with our colleagues (and their representatives in the Legislature) in southern Utah on public lands and environmental issues because of demographic, cultural, geographic, recreational, and economic grounds. For example, if instead of ski resorts, we had coal mines as our economic driver, we as your elected leaders might be signing a different tune.
For the last several years, we’ve had a lobbyist (Des Barker) on retainer to help with Legislative issues. We have very good working relationships with our representatives holding House Districts 28 (King), 53 (Wilde), and 54 (Quinn), as well as Senate Districts 19 (Christensen) and 26 (Van Tassell) who have helped us when needed.
Plans to pursue another bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics have been announced. Is Summit County poised to host another Olympics? What would be needed to make the area viable for the games?
Robinson: I had the privilege of serving as a Trustee and vice-chair of the Audit Committee for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) for the 2002 Winter Games.
Summit County and Utah as a whole are very well poised to host another successful winter Olympics. Thanks to SLOC’s foresight, the 2002 venues were not “one and done” assets but were built and endowed to remain viable as legacy facilities for athlete training and future hosting opportunities.
The IOC is transitioning away from the broken model of organizing committees’ spending billions at new host cities, the wake from which are shuttered venues and piles of debt. Utah knows how to put on fantastic games that are cost effective. We have a huge advantage because much of the infrastructure is already here and still operational.
Much work, including obtaining community consensus, enthusiasm, and involvement leading to a solid plan (bid), is needed.
What do you hope to achieve with another term?
Robinson: I have really enjoyed my time on the Council. It’s afforded me an opportunity to give back to this community that I love by using some of my skills and experience. I’ve also met and worked with a lot of great people.
I will continue to work hard on preserving open space, enhancing transportation and transit, providing affordable and workforce housing, sustainability, and managing growth.
The last frontier of the County is its east side—North and South Summit. It’s where the Snyderville Basin was 25 years ago. I want to see more effort and resources focused there, especially in providing the landowners and residents with their desires to preserve agriculture and open space, develop trails and recreational opportunities, improve infrastructure (water, sewer, and transportation) for appropriate development, and create more quality jobs.
According to the Summit County Clerk’s Office, ballots for the Nov. 6 election are set to begin arriving by mail on Friday, Oct. 19. Ballots returned through the mail must be postmarked by Nov. 5. Residents can register to vote online or at the Clerk’s Office through Oct. 30. Same-day registration will also be available at four voting assistance centers throughout the county on Election Day. Visit http://co.summit.ut.us/281/Voter-Registration-Elections for more information.
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