Kimball Junction Business Association hosts candidate panel
The Kimball Junction Business Association brought the Summit County Council candidates together on Wednesday for the first time this election.
While it wasn’t a full-blown debate, the four candidates in the contested races took advantage of the hour-long panel to expound on their visions for Summit County. Nan Chalat-Noaker, editor of The Park Record, led the discussion. Nearly 20 members attended. County Council members Roger Armstrong and Kim Carson, who are running unopposed, and Chris Robinson also participated.
Colin DeFord, a Republican who lives in Pine Ridge, and Doug Clyde, a Democrat who lives in Oakley, are contending for the seat currently held by Claudia McMullin, who decided not to run for a third term. The two planning commissioners faced off on issues such as affordable housing and the council’s responsibility to address it.
DeFord accused Clyde of shirking on his duty to provide affordable housing when he was employed by Park City Mountain Resort.
“Doug (Clyde) was a developer working until 2002 with Park City Mountain Resort and they had an obligation to build affordable housing, but they never built any while he was there. He is saying we should rely on the county and the city,” DeFord said. “In the planning commission right now we are working on two new zones that will bring a big solution to some of these problems. A mixed use will let us redevelop areas and this will bring on affordable housing and work force housing. It will let us incentivize it.”
Clyde, who served as the president of development for Park City Mountain Resort when it was run by Powdr Corp, countered that he didn’t “welsh on any agreements with affordable housing,” adding that “I made those agreements and was fired a year later.”
“I come from the industry that is the county’s largest employer of low-wage and seasonal workers. The resorts need to step up and live up to their obligations. This is a reality of our economy that we simply cannot ignore. But the county, city and community do need to step up for affordable housing too,” Clyde said. “I think the city, for example, has finally broken out of its slumber and realized if they are going to do something they have to do it themselves. I think the county should also be on the verge of that.
“On the East Side, if we do it correctly, we can provide places for those people to live,” he said. “We know you draw a lot of employees from Salt Lake and that’s not necessarily a bad thing because that takes some of the stress off the rest of us. I don’t think every job needs to be local.”
The candidates also explained their positions on managing the planning districts in the future and whether they should continue to be viewed as two separate areas.
The questions directed at Tal Adair, who serves as the county’s Republican Party chair, and Summit County Democratic Party Chair Glenn Wright resulted in a much less contentious discussion. Adair, who is hoping to retain his seat on the County Council, is being challenged for the two remaining years of former council member Dave Ure’s term.
When asked how much his party influences his decisions, Adair said few issues have actually hinged on political partisanship during his time on council.
“The party hasn’t come into play,” he said. “I may be a little more conservative and some on the council may be a little more liberal, but the variety on the council is a good thing. I don’t think that politics or party lines should play into it. It’s all about the people and what’s right for the people. There is debate and debate is good on the council.”
Wright agreed. He said it is important for the council to listen to both sides of the county in the hopes of creating a more unified community regardless of party affiliation.
“The county needs to come more together and not be two different communities,” Wright said. “I think you are seeing a lot of changes on the East Side that are lending itself to that philosophy.”
If elected, Wright acknowledged that being a Democrat “could be a challenge,” when working with the Utah Legislature. However, he said politics are shifting.
“I have had very close relations with all the Democrats in the state Legislature,” Wright said. “I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Legislature. I testified in front of the Redistricting Commission in 2011 and numerous other times. I’m pretty familiar with how it works over there after spending years down there. I think I know where the hot buttons are.”
Adair said working with the Legislature is important because “we know how to solve our own problems here at home.”
“We have to lobby whoever is down at the capitol because we know what is best to happen here,” Adair said. “As the council, you sit and talk together and you go down and lobby with them when they are in session. You build and use those relationships. We know how to work out best whatever the problem is. We will take on and look at the strategy and do what needs to be done to win what is important to us.”
The candidates are scheduled to participate in a debate forum hosted by KPCW and The Park Record on Monday, Oct. 17. The mail-in ballots for the general election will also be sent out that week.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.