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Summit County Council poised to remain blue

Republican campaigns falter, paving way for Democrats to win election

Political newcomer John “Jack” Murphy, a Republican, faced former Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Canice Harte in the general election. Harte was poised to win, earning 57% of the vote.
Park Record file photo

Utahns statewide overwhelmingly voted red in the general election, but Summit County voters did not heed the call. Instead, they followed local tradition and elected Democrats to the County Courthouse.

The Summit County Republican Party for the first time since 2016 put up two candidates for Summit County Council: Holly McClure, who challenged incumbent Chris Robinson, and John “Jack” Murphy, who campaigned against Canice Harte for Seat E. The county Republicans’ “M&M” campaign was hard-fought in one of the state’s few blue counties, with each earning around 42% of the vote in their respective races based on preliminary results released Thursday night.

The candidates vying for Seat D, which is currently occupied by Robinson, were separated by more than 2,900 votes with 18,872 ballots counted. McClure received 7,621 votes, or just shy of 42%, compared to the 10,528 votes cast for Robinson. He earned 58% of the vote.



The Seat E contest saw similar figures. Murphy earned 7,558 votes, or 42%. Harte, a former member of the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, received 10,152, or 57%. Libertarian candidate Michael Franchek was also campaigning for the seat but he withdrew his candidacy shortly before ballots were mailed. 

Summit County Clerk Eve Furse attributed delays in election night reporting to two withdrawn campaigns, including Franchek’s, as well as the time it took to count write-in votes for three County Courthouse positions. Summit County was the last of Utah’s 29 counties to release preliminary results on Tuesday. Duchesne and Wasatch counties were also delayed. 



Although the results are preliminary, there are not enough outstanding ballots in Summit County to change the outcome.

McClure and Murphy campaigned together, focusing on the concerns raised by residents such as the Dakota Pacific development and overall growth, property taxes and the need to diversify the County Council. McClure conceded and thanked her supporters for their time, noting the M&M campaign helped bring important issues to light.

“This campaign was not about Holly McClure; rather it was about the principles of good governance,” she said in an email to The Park Record.

McClure continued, “although the election is over, M&M will continue to bring transparency to the policy-making of the county. We remain concerned about North and South Summit and their gross and unfair underrepresentation on the Council. We will keep working to bring more equitable representation to those citizens of our beautiful county.”

Murphy could not be reached for comment.

Holly McClure, the Republican candidate for Summit County Council Seat D, challenged incumbent Democrat Chris Robinson in the general election. Robinson was expected to win reelection with 58% of the vote.
Park Record file photo

Robinson in an interview said the preliminary election results indicate voters think he’s adding value to the County Council, which he’s served on since its formation in 2008. The Democrat and current chair spent virtually no money on the campaign, instead relying on his experience to show he can do the job. 

The longest-serving county councilor is also looking forward to the new bodies joining the panel. Harte is poised to take over retiring County Councilor Glenn Wright’s seat in January. The Summit County Democratic Party is slated to appoint someone to the vacant seat left by Doug Clyde, who stepped down earlier this month, on Nov. 19. One of the two candidates will immediately take over the remainder of Clyde’s term, which expires in 2025.

Robinson knows both Coalville City Planning Commissioner Tonja Hanson and Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioner Thomas Cooke, who are vying for the seat, and expects either would make a great addition to the County Council.

“I’ve served with a lot of great people but I think the two with whom I’ll be serving in 2023, added to the three we have, will be among the best councils I’ve ever been on,” he said. 

Harte expects the dynamic of the County Council will change with two new members sharing their perspectives and viewpoints in January. He’s looking forward to working with other county officials to address and mitigate the problems affecting the community

“I would say we need change so change is a good thing. We need to keep evolving,” Harte said. “I feel like it’s going to be really healthy blood. You’ve got experienced council members, you’ve got new people coming in — but we’re all familiar with each other … We have these multiple council members with different experiences so we can pressure-test ideas and have a dialogue. I think that will be healthy and continue to be robust.”

Heading into another term, Robinson said he’s excited to continue working to address the issues in Summit County. He sees the lack of affordable housing as a critical one because of its impact on other topics such as development and the local workforce. Other priorities include improving transportation through several grants secured earlier this year as well as managing $50 million in general obligation bond funds that will be used to acquire open space.

Harte will primarily be focused on settling into his prospective seat and listening to other County Council members in the beginning. He expects there will be several projects on the agenda at the start of the year that he’s excited to delve into. In the long term, he wants to help the East Side navigate the pressures of growth and development that continue to affect the Snyderville Basin.

Robinson expects the County Council will have a retreat early in the year to help bring the new members, as well as the new county manager, up to speed and to calibrate the county’s work plan. 

The general election results are not official until they’re certified on Nov. 22.

Summit County


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