Park Record 2022 Voter Guide: Summit County Council Seat E

Political newcomer John “Jack” Murphy, a Republican, faces former Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Canice Harte, a Democrat, in the November election.
Park Record file photo

The Summit County Clerk’s Office mailed ballots on Tuesday and they should begin arriving in mailboxes soon. For the first time since 2016, the Republican Party has representatives running for a seat on the Summit County Council.

Ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8, The Park Record questioned the two candidates running for Seat E, which is currently occupied by Glenn Wright, who is not seeking reelection. Former Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Canice Harte, a Democrat, and political newcomer John “Jack” Murphy, a Republican, answered a series of questions addressing topics important to voters in their own words. 

Click here to see election coverage of Summit County Council Seat D.

Please describe your background and how it prepares you for the office you seek. 

Canice Harte: Summit County has been my home for more than 16 years. My wife Katy Wang, executive director of Park City Film, and I are raising two extraordinary daughters who are enrolled in our public schools. I learned my leadership skills in the United States Marine Corps and my passion for service to our country informs my decision to seek public office. 

I have worked in the outdoor sports industry for most of my professional life and believe wholeheartedly that stewardship of our environment is vital to the future of Summit County. Additionally, having started two small businesses in our county, I believe the appropriate role of government is to foster an environment that allows individuals and businesses to innovate and excel.

My commitment to our community is reflected in my volunteer activities. I am active in Rotary International, serving as a past president of Park City Rotary and a past assistant governor for Rotary District 5420. I am a board member of Friends of Summit County Search and Rescue and serve as an active member of the Summit County Search & Rescue team. My seven years of service on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission (2013-2020) means that when elected, I will hit the ground running, taking on the challenges and opportunities posed by the unparalleled growth facing our county.

My passion for this community runs deep. If elected, I promise to be a tireless advocate for all the residents of Summit County. 

John “Jack” Murphy: 

  • 25 years in finance, and 15 years specializing in real estate finance
  • A great example of how this prepared me for what the council should be doing and is not:
    • Systematically breaking down the unlawful tax assessment process deployed in our county 
    • Enlisting and working with local school district, state representatives and senators to ensure this injustice was addressed
    •  More details on my website demonstrate:
      • data-driven analysis
      • transparent process
      • accountability
      • serving the people

Between development, open space, nightly rentals, traffic, water use and more, Summit County residents have long expressed concerns about what’s happening in their communities. What do you see as the biggest threat to the quality of life in Summit County and how you would address it, if elected? 

Harte: All of the issues highlighted above flow from pressures related to land development in the County. Summit County is an excellent place to raise a family and grow a business. But what makes Summit County special is at risk. Summit County has literally millions of square feet of approved and yet to be developed projects that don’t get a lot of attention. Our citizens have a right to know exactly what we face in the short and long term. An educated citizenry should be our goal and to that end I would create a dashboard that identifies what projects have already been approved and let people know what is coming in addition to the new developments being proposed.

We can use tools such as transfer of density rights, density itself, open space bonds, buying land, etc., to curtail the growth ahead of us, but we must remain welcoming to new people and opportunities while evaluating new developments to ensure that we can provide water and manage traffic, public safety and air quality impacts while maintaining our sense of self and the unique qualities that define our County and community.


  • Biggest threat to our quality of life: 
    • lack of checks and balances of those individuals in given power
    • taxation and spending at the county level without checks and balances
    • importation and adoption of failed policies from CA and NY
      • group think results in doubling down on those same failed policies and people resulting in a cycle of failures
  • echo chamber in Summit County Government has lead to;
    • rapidly deteriorating quality of life 
    • poor outcomes for community: 
      • unchecked taxation and spending
      • inept management of development 
      • ceding local sovereignty to state when convenient
      • blatant disregard of state laws unless it serves their purpose not ours – (assessor, schools boards, council)

It’s no secret that there’s an affordable housing shortage in Summit County, yet the County Council and its partners have struggled to change the public’s perception of what it looks like. What should the County Courthouse look for when considering affordable housing developments? How do you plan to use your position on the County Council to make the issue more palatable for residents?

Harte: The County is better served by having an economically and culturally diverse population.  Creating opportunities for people of all income levels to live close to where they work helps with traffic issues and can attract and retain essential workers such as teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and service industry employees to our community.

While it is not the government’s role to create housing, we can create an environment that motivates and entices developers to create the housing solutions we desire. The greater issue at play is that typically when the community pushes back against affordable housing, it’s because the project is too large and does not blend into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Ideally, affordable housing should be interwoven into the fabric of the community and not be isolated from the rest of the housing stock – and there needs to be more work done to communicate to community members about the longer-term benefits and opportunities that come with adding affordable housing to the mix, including housing for young families and seniors, in addition to our essential workers.


  • Not government’s role to house people
    • see epic failures of past and present here and in the policies our government follows in CA and NY 
  • Local laws can provide incentives for private property actions
    • allowing accessory units to be repurposed or include accessory dwelling units that can house families (present code constrains size to much)
      • this would maintain rural feel yet increase housing by double, without high density

The County Council in August adopted the long-range transportation plan, which officials hope will address transportation needs for the next 30 years. The first phase includes a near $180 million price tag for 15 roadway projects and eight trail projects in the Snyderville Basin and on the East Side. Please provide your assessment of transit/transportation in Summit County. What project are you most excited about and why?

Harte: I am excited about any aspect of the plan that improves the quality of life for Summit County residents but I feel that the title “Long Range Transportation Plan” is a bit misleading. The plan is really a roads upgrade plan mixed with a desire to pave gravel trails.

When we look at the roads portion of the plan, we find it is mostly about widening roads and some realignments, and while roads can be part of the solution, I think we need to dig a bit deeper to create an effective “Long Range Transportation Plan” that will address our most pressing transportation issues in Summit County.

The other portion of the plan looks to pave recreational gravel trails throughout the County. There is recreational value in our soft surface multi-use trails that will be changed forever if they are paved.

We must find balance when altering our recreational trail system with the needs of multiple user groups. In general, we should error towards the natural environment and design a community around people and not cars.


  • Regional collaboration is key in all transportation projects 
  • Developing Richardson Flat into a large parking (area) with bus, gondola or rail 
  • would maintain character and utilize a tainted resource in the best way possible (Tom Clyde) 

Representatives from the County Courthouse and City Hall have started a community conversation and listening series about Utah’s Olympic bid. Officials hope a 2030 or 2034 Winter Games would provide access to funding to advance areas such as transportation and housing. Please describe one step you would take to ensure Summit County is prepared for a future Olympics and two other priorities heading into a possible Games. 

Harte: We need to deepen our efforts around community outreach and listening sessions. Hear where people sit on the issue, lessons learned from 2022, what the priorities of the community are and how we can bring our collective ideas to fruition.

A priority will be to extract as many benefits as possible that will remain after the games are finished. How we move people around during the games can help us to address some of our critical transportation issues. But this must be done within a broader context of approved and planned development so that we’re looking at the needs and goals of our county and incorporating that as much as possible into transportation upgrades needed for the Olympics. Another priority is making sure the games are accessible for all Summit County residents – particularly our service industry and essential workers who are the backbone of our community. Finally, the environmental impacts of the Olympics are a key consideration that must inform decisions made around transportation, housing, waste management, etc. We have the potential to be a leader in this area while also advancing our own goals around carbon emissions and sustainability.


  • Summit County benefited from the 2002 Olympic Games (I agree with Doug Clyde on most of his assessment)
  • Majority of benefits are a one-time event, literally and figuratively
    • additional Olympics hurt small businesses and local community
    • exacerbate our deteriorating quality of life
    • lower tourism
    • stipends for lowered tourism flow to companies that host not:
    • small and local businesses
    • locals

Please differentiate yourself from your opponent. 

Harte: I am proud to say I am a long-standing member of our community that has been active volunteering on behalf of all citizens of Summit County through multiple organizations. I continue to do so today as a past president of Park City Rotary Club and as a member of (the) Summit County Search and Rescue team.

Another point of differentiation is that I have spent seven years on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission and have a deep understanding of land-use issues and how our government works. 

While on the SBPC, I worked on the Dakota Pacific project, and I am on record for voting to forward a “negative recommendation” (a no vote) to County Council. I helped update the Snyderville Basin General Plan and I have worked on key projects throughout our community. 

I am proud of my service as a United States Marine and if elected I will be the only veteran on the County Council.

I pledge to represent all the citizens of Summit County and to ensure the voices of our community are heard and respected as we navigate the unprecedented growth and change before us. Together we can turn these challenges into opportunities to build a future that respects the unique character of Summit County and maintains our sense of place.

 I’d like your support and ask for your vote.

Murphy: I only met my opponent briefly. I can address this question with publicly available facts. 

  • The starkest difference is I am against the proposed change from commercial to residential for the Tech Center/Dakota Pacific project in Kimball Junction, whereas he wants more density for affordable housing
    • Increasing the population of Snyderville by 30%-65% would result in:
      • intolerable and potentially dangerous bottleneck traffic congestion at the interchange of 80 and 224
      • traffic congestion increase of 30%-65% would also be evident at every light on 224 from ParkWest/Canyons to 80 
  • Opponent is on record that he would focus on affordable housing 
    • I spent 15 years financing large scale development projects, most of which had a low-to-moderate income element
    • The pattern you see in the present Council of allowing huge developments to be approved because of an affordable housing component is the standard operating procedure of those in power in CA and NY
    • It is a deeply flawed model and demonstrates that it is not for the people, but for developers to increase their economics 
    • I know this because I financed them from 2003-2018
  • Other public records demonstrating a radical difference in focus would be the praise Harte lauded on the Council the last time he ran for Council and lost:
    • He is on record supporting the Council actions that hurt small businesses that were not applied to large business
      • sounds a lot like how the present government carried out property assessments, hurting small businesses and rewarding large ones
Summit County

Park City School District Board of Education hears solutions in wake of state audit

“Focus on the data outcomes, on the academic achievement outcomes, on the rankings that we have. The school board is happy with the direction of the district,” said Andrew Caplan, school board president. “We can always do a better job, especially with things that aren’t our core expertise like building and land management.”

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