Summit County Democrats elect new leadership
Party chair optimistic about Utah redistricting process
Summit County’s Democratic Party held its convention remotely Tuesday, naming a new party chair and discussing strategy for how the Democrats can follow in the footsteps of neighboring states and turn Utah blue.
Katy Owens, who will serve as party chair for the next two years, said the focus of her term will be on the once-a-decade redistricting process in Utah and ensuring Summit County has fair representation in the state Legislature. She said she’d like to see the Summit County Democratic Party produce more elected leaders, as well.
“I’m focused on building up more of a volunteer base here in Summit County so that we can support our wonderful candidates,” she said. “I will be focused on fundraising so that we can support those wonderful candidates as well.”
The past year was difficult for grassroots election efforts, Owens said, which she knows personally from her unsuccessful run last fall for the state Senate in District 19.
“The party actually supported a large digital campaign for me, which was so essential that year with COVID-19 and not being able to go door to door,” she said. “In the future in 2022, I really hope that we are going door to door again. And so I need all of you (party members) to volunteer for candidates to help us go knock doors to help us really get out the vote.”
Owens painted a hopeful picture, saying the “sweep of history” is bending toward the principles of the Democratic Party, but she cautioned that potential is not inevitable and they still need to put the work in.
“I think we have a lot of potential here in Summit County and I think we have a lot of potential in the state as Democrats,” she said. “It’s a long road sometimes but I really do think that in the coming years we’re going to have some big victories, and I look forward to helping create the structure to make that happen.”
Owens said she wants the Summit County Democrats to be a collaborative effort, not a top-down structure, and encouraged anyone with ideas to share them with her.
“I would really like to create an inclusive atmosphere in the Democratic Party,” she said. “This is going to be a team effort over the next couple of years to hopefully first have a say in creating some fairer districts, and then winning some of those districts.”
Others who were elected to leadership positions in the Summit County Democratic Party include Chris Neville, secretary; Julia Kretschmar, treasurer; Stephanie Poll, North Summit vice chair; Karri Del Hays, South Summit vice chair; Alex Natt, Snyderville area vice chair; and state committee persons Rory Swensen and Beth Armstrong. The Park City area vice chair position is vacant, but Owens said there has been interest in the position and they hope to fill it in the near future. None of the candidates for the positions were opposed.
Rep. Brian S. King, minority leader in the state House of Representatives, shared a few words at the convention, calling Summit County Democrats “the backbone of the Democratic Party in Utah in so many ways.” King expressed frustration with his Republican counterparts in the Legislature, saying their efforts to ban critical race theory from classrooms and to make Utah a “sanctuary state” for the Second Amendment amount to pandering to their base and nothing more.
“These don’t have any basis in fact. … They’re rooted in right-wing TV and radio and extremist politics and promoting emotional responses based on fear and anger, envy and racial prejudice,” he said.
King mentioned his frustration with the Republican Party in Utah in part to emphasize the need for strong leadership and to thank those in the Summit County Democratic Party who choose to serve. He quoted the popular saying, “If serving is below you, leadership is beyond you.” And he said Utah Democrats have reason for optimism.
“When you look at Colorado to the east of us, New Mexico and Arizona to the south of us and Nevada to the west of us, every one of those states have moved from being red or purple to blue states in the last 20 years,” he said. “And we can do the same here. We can make significant inroads into the Republican power base in Utah.”
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