Four-time Summit County Council candidate optimistic this time around
Four-time Summit County Council candidate Sean Wharton has not let his three previous attempts to secure a seat on the council dissuade him from launching another campaign.
Wharton, 50 years old and a Marion resident, was one of the first four candidates to file for a seat on the Summit County Council when the window opened on Friday. Wharton is running as a Democrat for the seat currently held by Claudia McMullin. McMullin has announced she will not seek reelection.
"Many years ago I made the decision to run," Wharton said. "I have been a guy who has served the community in a different capacity for my whole life and I want an opportunity to serve in a more meaningful way. It would be a great honor to me and a lifetime achievement."
Wharton unsuccessfully campaigned against Dave Ure in 2014, losing by only 370 votes. In recent years, he has also unsuccessfully challenged Roger Armstrong and Sally Elliott.
"I’m a persistent guy and I am finally running for an open seat," Wharton said. "Each time I have run it has been more and more positive. With the support I received last election cycle, it was really close so I’m optimistic.
"I’m at a point, I’m 50 years old, that I could dedicate the remainder of my career to working in a job like this, as well as being a small business man in the community," Wharton said. "I’m not just in it for one term or to get in and out."
Throughout his campaigns over the years, Wharton has touted his longtime residency in Summit County as an example of his ability to understand the issues on each side. While Wharton attended Park City High School in the 1980s, he lived in Park Meadows. After graduating, he settled in the Snyderville Basin for about 20 years. He now lives in Marion with his wife and 10 children.
"I have seen the growth and the impacts of the changing dynamic on the community," Wharton said. "I have a lot of history and knowledge being a product of our community and having businesses in the East and West Sides and in the resorts.
Wharton describes himself as a restaurateur and small businessman on the East Side, with strong ties to the western part of the county as well. He said "as we cross these bridges with transportation and affordable housing the East Side becomes a critical piece of the puzzle."
"We kind of have a blank slate over there right now because it is still a really small community," Wharton said. "But all of these East Side communities have their different dynamics because I think Coalville wants to see a little more growth and economic development than Kamas and Francis and Woodland."
Wharton, who currently sits on the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission, said the commission’s recent rewrite of the development code chapters concerning zoning districts accounts for those different perspectives, while providing more opportunity for landowners and "not just sprawl."
"We have done a tremendous amount of stuff. Did we get it perfect? No, absolutely not. But is it better than it was? One-hundred percent yes," Wharton said. "The development code was extremely broken and poorly written."
The rewrite of the code proved to be a divisive issue for commissioners and passed with a slim 4-3 vote. Wharton voted in favor of forwarding a positive recommendation.
As he prepares to step onto the campaign trail for a fourth time, Wharton emphasized his "persistence, dedication and determination" as qualities he brings to the table.
"With over 30 years worth of experience in the resort business, I can say I am an expert in the team building business," Wharton said. "I hope moving forward I will be able to utilize those skills bringing us more together as one community. Not Park City or Kamas or East and West Sides, but one community unified in purpose and goals, be it trails, transportation or housing. It’s all Summit County."
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The Summit County Board of Health has selected Phil Bondurant to be the Health Department’s next director, opting for continuity rather than a broad candidate search while the department continues to navigate the pandemic and its aftereffects.