The Park Record Editorial, Nov. 1-4, 2008
October 31, 2008
Summit County citizens couldn’t have asked for a better year to launch their inaugural County Council. Thanks to the enormous wave of interest in the presidential election, the five new councilors will be picked by what Summit County Clerk Kent Jones anticipates will be the biggest voter turnout in the county’s history.
Not only that voters have a strong slate of 11 candidates with wide-ranging skills and interests from which to choose. All 11 have spent the last month attending local forums in North and South Summit, Snyderville and Park City to explain how they would tackle tough issues like private property rights, development, traffic, the environment, immigration and the economy. In our view, all have proven their sincere commitment to safeguarding the county’s future.
We believe, however, that there is one candidate in each race that merits our endorsement. That support, by the way, is not based on the candidates’ party affiliation. In fact, partisan affiliations have no real use at the county level and only serve to enable party chicanery during the primaries. Above all we encourage residents not to vote a straight ticket, but instead judge each individual candidate based on his or her qualifications, track record and positions on the issues important to you.
Among the contenders for the four-year Seat A post, The Record endorses incumbent County Commissioner Sally Elliott who has demonstrated an unparalleled zeal for serving her constituents. Elliott’s most notable accomplishments have come as a result of her unwavering support of trails, open space and the environment. As one who has served on both a commission and a council, her guidance will be especially valuable during the county’s transition to the new form of government.
In the race for the four-year Seat B post, The Record supports Claudia McMullin who has shown both enthusiasm and leadership skills during her tenure on the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission. While her opponent’s legacy of a lifetime spent in the county is laudable, as outside development pressures close in on Summit County, we believe McMullin’s more diverse background — including time spent working in New York City — will be more valuable to the council as it deals with the current financial turbulence across the country.
The Record also supports John Hanrahan for the four-year Seat C post. In addition to dealing with issues related to land use and taxes, county leaders must be attuned to the health and welfare needs of their constituents. As a founder of the People’s Health Clinic, which serves the uninsured in Summit and Wasatch counties, Hanrahan set the gold standard for community service. Park City and Summit County are often mistakenly portrayed as uniformly upscale. In truth, both sides of the county are made up of many diverse yet extremely interdependent components. Hanrahan understands that the health and well-being of the county as a whole depends on providing services across socioeconomic and geographic boundaries and will reinforce that perspective on the new council.
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Chris Robinson is the best candidate for the two-year term in Seat D. As a land conservation expert and a rancher, he represents both sides of one of the most polarizing issues in the county private property rights versus preservation of open space.
For the two-year Seat E post, The Record recommends David Ure. As a former long-time state lawmaker, Ure has often gone to bat for both his rural and his resort constituents. He is well versed in Utah politics and could help the county negotiate with a sometimes-impermeable legislature. Though he is basically a conservative, Ure bucked his party and initiated groundbreaking legislation that made it possible for immigrants to drive legally in the U.S. and for the children of undocumented immigrants who attended high school in Utah to qualify for in-state college tuition rates.
Ure’s background as a Kamas rancher would also help maintain a fair balance of representation for the East Side of the county on the new council.
Summit County residents were deeply divided over adopting the new form of government but, judging by the caliber of the candidates who are running, we are confident the county will be better served by the new five-member council.