Several open mayoral races highlight election season in eastern Summit County
Coalville, Francis and Oakley mayors won’t run again
The candidate filing window for municipal races in Summit County opens Tuesday, the official start to election season and the time when electoral hopefuls can officially declare their pursuit of office.
There are numerous seats open on the East Side, with the mayor’s office and at least two city or town council seats on the ballot for each municipality. And there appears to be ample room for new leadership, with three of five mayors saying they will not run again.
Candidates looking to fill any of these seats must file with the clerk in their municipality by 5 p.m. Monday, June 7. If there are more than double the amount of candidates than seats — if five people vie to fill two council seats, for example — there will be a primary election Aug. 10.
The Nov. 2 general election will feature as many as four candidates for two seats, or up to two candidates for mayor.
Francis has two council seats up for grabs, as well as an open mayoral race.
After one term in office, Mayor Byron Ames said he is not running again.
“I think my time as mayor has run its course, and I’m looking for other opportunities that I can make a bigger, better impact,” he said. “I think what I set out to accomplish as the mayor has been accomplished. It’s time for somebody else to fill that role.”
Ames said that his 2017 election was an accomplishment in itself, breaking a power structure that he claimed had run the town for more than two decades.
Councilors Trilby Cox and Shana Fryer will also have to run again to retain their seats.
In neighboring Kamas, Mayor Matt McCormick said he was planning to seek another term.
“It’s pretty simple: There’s a huge learning curve to being mayor,” McCormick said. “I’m starting to get my feet grounded a bit and do good work.”
Along with McCormick, the terms of Councilors Garry Walker and Allen McNeil are also set to expire at the end of 2021.
In Oakley, two-term Mayor Wade Woolstenhulme said he would not run again.
“I don’t want to get divorced,” he said with a laugh. “Politics, I’m not into. White’s white, black’s black.”
Joining Woolstenhulme with expiring terms are Councilors Kelly Kimber and Steve Wilmoth.
After two terms, Coalville Mayor Trever Johnson said he is not running again.
“It will be eight years, I think that’s enough,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it. The city staff has been really good and they’re good people. I hope whoever runs and wins will take good care of city staff as well as the city itself.”
Johnson’s second term saw the near doubling of the city’s acreage with the annexation of land for a proposed golf-course, second-home community. Residents have debated the merits of the project at dozens of hearings over the four years, with commentary sometimes growing divisive.
“It’s been taxing, for sure,” Johnson said.
Two City Council seats will also be on the ballot, those currently held by Councilors Rodney Robbins and Cody Blonquist.
Henefer Mayor Kay Richins said he hadn’t yet decided whether to seek another term.
“I am considering it,” Richins said. “If I do, one of the reasons why is because you get a lot of things started when you’re mayor and you’d like to see them completed.”
Richins mentioned a secondary water system as a key priority. It’s a project that has been in the works for years, but recent supply shortages have added as much as $500,000 to the proposed cost.
Councilors Detton Fawcett and Matthew Shill are also faced with the decision whether to run again.
Significant turnover possible in Hideout
While Hideout isn’t in Summit County, the last year has shown that decisions made by that town’s elected officials can have region-wide impacts.
In addition to the mayor’s seat, almost the entire Hideout town council is up for election, a result of mid-term appointments after previous councilors did not serve out their full terms.
Hideout Mayor Phil Rubin, who has risen to prominence during the town’s contentious annexation bid, did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and it is unclear whether he will seek another term.
The only town councilor whose seat is not on the ballot is Jerry Dwinell, who along with Rubin supports the annexation and development plan.
Councilors Chris Baier, Ralph Severini, Carol Haselton and Robert Nadelberg would have to run again and win to retain their seats.
According to Town Clerk Alicia Fairbourne, three of the councilors — Severini, Haselton and Nadelburg — took office after a previous councilor stepped down before the end of a term.
That leaves two council seats on November’s ballot that are for two-year terms and the other two council seats for the standard four-year term.
The municipal election, however, is not the only important upcoming vote for town residents. Hideout’s annexation referendum is slated for June 22, and ballots will start being sent out June 1.
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Summit County’s sales taxes are beating 2019 levels, with an estimated additional $1.2 million in revenue. Councilors debated using the money to hire more employees.