Oakley ballot set for November election
Edmunds, Wilmoth, Woolstenhulme and Hanson advance
Dave Edmunds says he has participated in enough elections to know it’s a “huge honor and responsibility when people vote for you.”
Last month, Edmunds, the former Summit County Sheriff, finished first in the Oakley City Council race with 216 votes. Incumbent Steve Wilmoth, with 139 votes, Stephanie Woolstenhulme, with 116 votes and Christopher Hanson, with 89 votes, will also advance to the General Election. Eric Kendell Woolstenhulme, Steve Butler and Richard Bliss Jr. were eliminated.
The candidates are vying for the two, four-year seats, held by Wilmoth and Kendall “Tiny” Woolstenhulme, that are up for reelection. Oakley has 785 registered voters and 362 cast ballots in the primary.
“That honor is not lost on me. But I also know there is a big difference between a primary and general,” Edmunds said. “It will be incumbent upon me to make sure I talk with the voters of Oakley to alleviate any concerns they may have.”
Edmunds credited the vote he received to his familiarity with the community as former sheriff.
“Most people in Oakley know who I am and know what they are getting because people have seen over the years that I have been an agent of change and some people in Oakley want to see change in the city government,” he said.
Edmunds said it’s no big mystery that the most pressing issue facing Oakley is growth management. He said Oakley stands at the precipice because of its proximity to Park City.
“People are hoping its elected officials understand the complexities of government and are ready to deal with it,” he said. “I don’t know that Oakley has truly found its 21st century identity and I want to help find that and craft its identity moving forward. Once we find that we need to take steps to preserve it. I’m hoping that if I am fortunate enough to get on the City council we can help craft that.”
Wilmoth, who was appointed to the council earlier this year, said he was “humbled and shocked” when he first learned the results. Wilmoth has lived in Oakley for 17 years, but said competing against well-known names and life-long residents was intimidating.
“To run against those guys was very humbling,” he said. “It lets you know that sometimes, even when you don’t think you are, you are reaching people.”
Wilmoth said people often move to a small town, but want big-town amenities. He said change benefits the entire community. However, he added, “We need to be careful and pay attention to what is going on.”
“The trails issue is a big thing right now and I’m not against the trails, but we need to be smart on how we approach it,” he said.
Wilmoth said he believes he can be the community’s voice. He described himself as someone who is neutral, but often plays the devil’s advocate to ensure all arguments are vetted.
“This city should have a voice in the changes that are being made and I want to be that voice,” he said. “I’m not afraid to talk to people and talk about the tough issues.”
Woolstenhulme, who is currently in her second term as planning commissioner, has lived in Oakley for nearly 20 years. Woolstenhulme said she is excited at the prospect of being involved with the planning and development of the city for the future.
“I think that I’m very open minded and prepared to really discuss and inform myself on a lot of the issues and I think the two most important ones are: trails and development within Summit County’s unincorporated areas and smaller townships.
“I’m very pro-trail. But I feel they need to be done right, which will be difficult with all the private property,” she said. “I’m neutral and very open minded to discuss them, but that doesn’t mean I will jump on board with one side or the other.”
As far as development, Woolstenhulme said it needs to be controlled and balanced. She added, “It needs to stay in line with the master plan of the city as well, which is something I really tried to do with the planning commission.”
When asked whether a potential conflict could arise if both she and Mayor Wade Woolstenhulme, whom she is related to through marriage, were elected she said it is “a non-issue.”
“I think there could be a conflict having multiple family members in top leadership positions, but I don’t think I would be in conflict,” she said. “I think it would bring balance because I don’t always see eye-to-eye with the mayor. I do understand where people may consider that a conflict but, he is up for election too so that may change anyways.”
Hanson, a two-term planning commissioner, congratulated his fellow candidates on earning enough votes to advance to the General Election, adding “we have a lot of good people that want to do good things for the city.”
“I’m actually pretty excited just as a resident of Oakley,” Hanson said. “We are coming to that tipping point where we will be like the West Side of the county where there is open space you can enjoy or we can go in the other direction where it is all private and it is house after house after house, in which case we would lose a big part of why people live here.”
Hanson, who is an accountant, said he worries city leaders do not have a plan for maintaining and improving the city’s infrastructure as the community experiences growth.
“When we put in the sewer plant it was a world-class facility. Now, there is a bunch of equipment that should have been replaced five years ago and I don’t have faith that there has been a capital plan and money is being allocated properly for the future growth that we all know will occur. I get the impression that we don’t have a plan going forward.”
Oakley City will be participating in a vote-by-mail election in November. Ballots for the General Election will be sent Oct. 17.
There was not a primary for the mayor’s race. Mayor Wade Woosltenhulme and Ron Bowen, a former Oakley City Council member, are competing for the seat.
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.