Summit County Democratic Convention nears
This weekend, Summit County’s Democrats will turn their attention away from the highly contested presidential races to candidates who are seeking election closer to home.
The Summit County Democratic Convention will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 Silver Springs Drive, in Park City. Anyone can attend, however, only county delegates will have voting rights.
At the convention, county delegates will determine the party’s nomination to go head to head against Republican candidate Colin DeFord for one of the four Summit County Council seats that will be on the ballot during November’s General Election. It is the only county race on the Democratic ticket that drew more than one candidate.
Doug Clyde and Sean Wharton, who are competing for the Democratic nomination, are scheduled to address party members at the convention in their bid for the seat currently held by Claudia McMullin. McMullin announced in February she would not seek a third term.
Clyde, age 64, of Oakley, is launching his first campaign for office. He has continued to highlight his experience as a land planner specializing in resort-based development to showcase what he calls a "broad understanding of the land uses in all corners of the county."
"I have significantly more experience in land planning and government affairs and I’m trying to do the best job that I can to make sure that my message is clear about my experience with land planning and, most importantly, dealing with all the necessary mitigation required for responsible development," Clyde said.
Clyde serves with Wharton, 50 years old and a Marion resident, on the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission. Wharton is a four-time County Council candidate and longtime resident of Summit County. He describes himself as a restaurateur and small businessman on the East Side, with strong ties to the western part of the county.
"With over 30 years experience in the resort business, I can say I am an expert in the team-building process," Wharton said. "I hope moving forward I will be able to utilize those skills to bring us more together as one community. Not Park City or Kamas or East and West, but one community, unified in purpose and goals."
In order to become the party’s nominee for the County Council race, a candidate must earn 60 percent of the delegates votes. Ninety delegates were elected from the 45 precincts during the caucuses last month. If neither candidate receives 60 percent of the vote, the nominee will be decided at the primary election on June 28.
Summit County Democratic Chair Glenn Wright said he anticipates the convention will draw up to about 150 people, adding that "presidential election years are always bigger."
"I would expect that we get that many," Wright said. "Aside from the contested races to see who will be the nominee for the County Council, it is also a perfect opportunity to meet these candidates for other offices in a more personal setting."
Wright, Roger Armstrong and Kim Carson are scheduled to join the County Council candidates at the convention. Armstrong and Carson, who currently serve on the County Council, are both running unopposed. Wright is challenging Republican Tal Adair for his two-year seat.
Other Democratic candidates for governor, Utah attorney general, U.S. Senate, U.S. congress, House Districts 53, 54, 25 and Senate District 19 are also scheduled to be on hand to address party members. Wasatch County Democrat Rudi Kohler, who is challenging Republican incumbent Kraig Powell for his seat in District 54, and House Minority Leader and District 28 Representative Brian King are expected to attend.
Cole Capener, 60 years old and a Sun Peak resident, filed to represent District 53 in the state House of Representatives. He will face Rep. Mel Brown, a Republican from Coalville, or Republican challenger Seth Winterton, of Woodland, depending on the results of the Republican Primary. Utah’s District 53 includes precincts in the Snyderville Basin, North and South Summit. Capener has said that he is "cautiously optimistic" about challenging the longtime incumbent.
This could be a unique year for Democrats, Capener said, adding that there is an opportunity for the party to gain some seats in the state Legislature "if we can get all the Democrats energized."
"I think there is really a chance," Capener said. "My particular district has been dominated by rural areas, but we have seen growth in western and eastern Summit County and they may not vote the way the district has voted in the past.
"I don’t think this is a slam dunk for Mel Brown because of this anti-incumbent sentiment that seems to be spreading and I think it works to our advantage," he said. "There are a lot of issues that resonate across party lines and these are the kinds of things I hope can energize the base and appeal to a broad swath of the district’s voters."
Summit County Clerk Evelyn Furse said ballots are expected to be mailed on Oct. 18 and should arrive later that week.
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