The Park Record editorial, January 9-12, 2010 |

The Park Record editorial, January 9-12, 2010

City councilors undertake weighty responsibility

The swearing in of two new Park City council members on Thursday took on additional gravity as members of the community paid tribute to Roger Harlan. After serving three terms on the council, Harlan, who was 74 years old, bowed out of last November’s race and attended his last meeting as a council member shortly before New Year’s. On Tuesday the community was stunned by the news that he had died following heart surgery.

This week, Harlan was lauded as a thoughtful and kind leader, attributes that Judge Shauna Kerr, as she swore in Cindy Matsumoto and Alex Butwinski, hopes will be carried on.

In general, outgoing officials measure their legacies in terms of specific projects and legislation, but Harlan will be remembered most for the tone he set during some stormy times.

When confronted by a difficult decision or an angry constituent, Harlan would tilt his head and listen carefully. He would ask provocative questions but was rarely roused to anger. In fact, he left most conversations smiling.

Kerr said she hoped the new council members would display the same type of leadership.

Harlan left office knowing the city’s future was in good hands.

Interestingly, all of the current council members are graduates of the Park City Leadership program, a one-year crash course in local and state issues along with teamwork and problem-solving exercises.

The program, now over a decade old, enrolls 25 citizens each year for monthly classes. The cost is subsidized by a number of local organizations and the goal is to encourage emerging leaders to become more involved in the community.

Apparently, it has been an excellent investment.

Over the last 15 years, Leadership alumni have fanned out across the county to assume public office and advocacy roles in a number of organizations.

At a time when politics can be a brutal environment and nonprofits are scrambling to stay afloat, thoughtful, ethical and educated leadership is at a premium. Park City’s Leadership program, and role models like Roger Harlan, have done a lot to enrich our community by ensuring that new leaders are ready to step forward when others are ready to step down.

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