Primary turnout ‘abysmally low’
Parkite Ruth Gezelius, who has judged elections in Summit County for about 25 years, said she has seldom seen voter turnout in the Park City area as poor as it was Tuesday morning.
"So far, it is abysmally low," Gezelius said in an interview at the polling location at the Marsac Building.
The polls opened at 7 a.m. and late Tuesday morning only 10 people in Park City had voted, she said.
Only Republicans in Park City were allowed to vote in Tuesday’s primary. Republicans and Democrats hold separate primaries and the GOP election was closed, meaning only registered Republicans could cast ballots.
There were two political races on Tuesday’s Republican ballot. Incumbent state Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, faced a challenge from Wanship Republican Jon Hellander in the race for the party’s nomination for state House District 53. The winner of the GOP primary will face Park City Democrat Glenn Wright in the November election.
"I’m looking forward to seeing who my opponent is going to be," said Wright, who is chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party.
Park City residents reside in District 53, which includes portions of Summit, Wasatch, Morgan, Daggett and Rich counties.
Supporters of Hellander held a "honk and wave" Tuesday morning at Kimball Junction, said Henry Glasheen, chairman of the Summit County Republican Party.
Meanwhile, Republicans on Tuesday were also slated to decide who their nominee will be in the race for a seat in the U.S. Senate. The winner in November will replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah. The Republicans vying in the Senate primary were Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee.
"I think turnout is going to be lower than we anticipated," Glasheen said in a telephone interview. "We were expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 to 10 percent. My guess is it’s going to be at the low end of that range."
A Park City woman who was not affiliated with a political party registered as a Republican Tuesday morning at the Marsac Building so she could vote in the closed primary.
"She thought she was already a Republican," election judge Debbie Schoenberger said.
Park City Democrat Gary Kimball was told there was no Democratic primary when he showed up at the Marsac Building to vote.
"I don’t want to dirty my hands by voting for a Republican," Kimball said as he left the polling location, after being told he could not cast a ballot.
The only primary election for Summit County Democrats on Tuesday was in the race for state House District 25, which includes a chunk of the Snyderville Basin. The primary for the Democrats was open. Anyone could vote regardless of their party affiliation.
Joel Briscoe and Anthony Kaye were the two Salt Lake City Democrats facing off in District 25. The winner of the primary will face Salt Lake Republican Rick Raile on Election Day.
Late Tuesday morning, the race in District 25 was too close to call, Wright said.
"I would say at this point it’s anybody’s guess," Wright said. "Nobody really knows."
Basin neighborhoods in District 25 include Summit Park, Pinebrook, ParkWest, Highland Estates, Silver Springs and Ranch Place, according to Summit County Clerk Kent Jones.
Primary races were also slated for two school board seats on the East Side of Summit County. In the South Summit School District, incumbent board member Philip Marchant, Steven Hardman and Paul Weller were competing in the race in District 4, which includes the Marion and Peoa areas.
Incumbent board member Steven Richins, Sheldon Smith and Michael L. Calderwood each were running in District 4 in the North Summit School District, which includes the south side of Coalville.
The Christian Center of Park City had a makeover last year, and its boutique felt it was time for one, too.