The Park Record Editorial, Nov. 7-11, 2009
November 6, 2009
Most of the time, hometown officials march along in relative anonymity, trying to make decisions based upon the mandate they received when they were elected. Aside from the initial campaign season hubbub, they are often left to guess what the public wants. The phone rarely rings and only a handful of regular citizens attend the meetings.
So it is understandable that many of Park City’s incumbent elected officials were surprised and frustrated by the sudden barrage of criticism that erupted during this year’s municipal election. From their perspective, they regularly reach out for public comment via visioning sessions, open houses, online surveys and public hearings. Where had the critics been all this time?
According to mayoral challenger Brad Olch’s election campaign, local leaders have drifted off track and City Hall has been badly managed. Specifically, he questioned the restructuring of the city’s departments, the amount of money being spent on outside consultants, the dissolution of the Historic District Commission, and the amount of money spent on municipal projects like the new police headquarters and the Marsac Building. Olch also pointed to the growing number of empty commercial spaces around town as evidence of the current administration’s lack of an economic development plan. And he said he could do better.
He was not alone in his criticism of City Hall. Many others told the newspaper privately they had misgivings about the way Park City was being run. Some alluded to widespread discontent among city staff and local merchants. But we wonder whether they had ever openly shared those concerns with Mayor Dana Williams or any of the council members. More importantly, we are interested in whether their vocal dissent will continue or fade away now that the polls have closed.
If the critics truly care about the future of their city, we hope they will continue to offer their input, both negative and positive, to the council. Some of their points were well taken, though it would be good to hear some constructive remedies to go with the rebukes.
For their part, Mayor Dana Williams and the council must continue to live up to their claims of running an open and accessible government by reaching out to the disaffected, as painful as that may be, even though they no longer need their votes.