Summit County Council candidates discuss partisan influences
Summit County Councilor Tal Adair, who also serves as the county’s Republican Party chair, admittedly represents one of the more conservative viewpoints of the elected body.
Adair, the only Republican and East Side representative on the five-member board, was appointed to fill the vacant seat of former council Dave Ure, who was also a staunch supporter of the GOP.
This year, the incumbent’s seat is one of four that are up for election. Summit County Democratic Party Chair Glenn Wright is challenging Adair to the remaining two years left of Ure’s term.
Over the course of the election, the candidates have faced off on several issues challenging the community, including affordable housing, transportation and climate change, with their views largely partisan in nature.
However, in an interview with The Park Record on Monday, Adair said his party affiliation has rarely influenced his decisions during his tenure on the County Council.
“I’ve never said, ‘I am a Republican and this is how it is going to be,’” Adair said. “I may be conservative in my thinking, but I don’t know that there is a barometer that says I am this much more conservative than the others.
“I’m conservative in nature probably because of my business background,” he said. Adair works as a loan officer in Kamas.
Adair highlighted his voting record on sustainability issues as proof that he does not always follow party lines.
“I have voted for the environment and things that help our environment out such as solar and features to make our buildings more energy efficient,” Adair said. “I think it is really important in our environment that we do everything as humanly possible to ensure our kids will have what we have.”
But Adair has remained coy about who will have his support in the presidential election, refusing to distance himself from Republican nominee Donald Trump, as many others have.
“I think everyone has to look within themselves and measure their family values and how it measures up with how they vote,” Adair said. “It’s a personal decision. “I think voting is the most important thing we can do even if we may not like to vote for who is out there.
“Sometimes we get away from what our family values are and our decisions and we get tied up in the sound bite,” Adair said. “But we need to measure what we believe in and look at ourselves.”
His challenger, Wright, said Trump would “be a disaster for this county” because of his views and suggested policies about immigration.
“I don’t understand how anyone who is going to represent this county could advocate for a person who says he would break up literally hundreds of families and deport probably 10 percent of our workforce,” Wright said.
Wright spoke highly of his opponent, but said he lacks a vision for the county’s future.
“Tal and I get along fine and he is a nice guy, but I don’t see a vision for where he wants to take the county or any clear understanding of what the issues are or what he wants to do about them,” Wright said. “I think some of that is related to the Republican way of thinking that it will all work out in the end.”
Wright described himself as “more of an activist,” adding that if he sees a problem, he wants to address it.
“I think, in particular on climate change, it’s a night-and-day issue there,” Wright said. “The Republican Party way of thinking is they are climate deniers.
“But the climate projections of this county indicate that if we continue to operate business as usual, our snow levels will be at 9,500 feet,” he said. “We need to be leaders in climate change.”
Wright said if he is elected, he would encourage the council to take the lead on matters such as climate change and foster alliances with companies such as Vail Resorts. He said a largely Democratic council would need those alliances to accomplish anything in the mostly-Republican dominated Legislature.
“Money talks,” Wright said. “One of the best things we can do as a county is form alliances with large business that will affect our influence in the Legislature.”
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Summit County has launched a new program aimed at overturning wrongful convictions.