Summit County Council candidates in contested races challenged at forum
Summit County Democratic Chair Glenn Wright found himself in the hot seat during a candidate forum on Monday when his Republican challenger Tal Adair questioned his decision to back out of a gentleman’s agreement the two allegedly made to ensure there would be an East Side resident on the council.
Adair, who is hoping to retain his seat on the County Council, is being challenged by Wright for the two remaining years of former council member Dave Ure’s term. He is the only councilor who lives in the eastern part of the county.
Wright, a Prospector resident, said Adair misinterpreted the agreement.
“I do think we need to have an East Side seat and Doug will fill that,” Wright retorted, referring to Doug Clyde, a Democrat who lives in Oakley.
The four candidates in the contested races for County Council took stances on a wide range of issues during the forum, hosted by KPCW and The Park Record, on Monday. The candidates agreed on some issues, such as the need for an East Side representative and better relationships with the various municipalities, while drawing distinctions on others. More than 60 people attended, including incumbent council members Roger Armstrong and Kim Carson, who are running unopposed.
Questions at the forum touched on the candidate’s potential conflicts of interest, affordable housing and the council’s relationship with Wasatch County.
Colin DeFord, a Republican challenging Clyde for the seat currently held by Claudia McMullin, asked his opponent how often he would have to recuse himself from the meetings because of his work as a private land-planning consultant.
“You’ve mentioned your years of experience in the Basin and on the East Side and on the issue with Voelker Court you are working with the attorneys,” DeFord said referring to a recent matter that went before the County Council.
“In your 30-plus years, I feel you would have a lot reason to recuse yourself,” DeFord said. “How would you serve effectively with the County Council?”
Clyde countered that he would have “virtually no issues” because he has no financial interests in either part of the county.
“I do very little work in the county itself,” Clyde said. “The vast majority of the work I do is within the city limits and those do not represent conflicts. The vast amount of my work in the last 15 years of my consultancy has been in California. I have done very little work in the Basin itself.”
Another topic concerned the lack of affordable and workforce housing in the county. Wright said the burden of that responsibility belongs to both the private and public sector.
“I would advocate for more mixed-use development in that part of the county that creates a mixture of both commercial and affordable housing on the same site,” Wright said. “I think we have to try and accelerate the process. It’s time for the county to put some money in the pot.”
Adair, however, wasn’t as quick to commit the county’s resources toward the problem. He said the county should simply facilitate the conversation.
“We should bring everyone together to look at the problem,” Adair said. “We have a big brain trust here and I think if we brought together both businesses and private interests I think there are a lot of different options and opportunities that we can come up with together.”
The impending growth in Wasatch County is also expected to contribute to the housing and traffic challenges residents face. The candidates were given the opportunity explain how the County Council can better work with their neighbors to stay ahead of the impacts.
Clyde said that is a particularly difficult situation because the county, particularly the city, has a history of doing things that are “irritating” to Wasatch County.
“We need to work really hard to develop a good relationship with Wasatch County,” Clyde said.
DeFord likened it to the relationship homeowners have with their own neighbors, adding “you can’t tell your neighbor what to do.”
“It’s about having a relationship with them and hoping that together you can come to an agreement,” DeFord said. “I think it is about relationships.”
Watch the full KPCW/Park Record Forum discussion between the Summit County Council candidates Dem. Glenn Wright and Rep. Tal Adair who are vying for Seat E and Rep. Colin DeFord and Dem. Doug Clyde who are vying for Seat B. Video by Park Record intern Emily Billow:
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The Coalville native doesn’t see any major roadblocks for this year’s fair, though presenting in front of the County Council is a little nerve wracking.