Throttled: political newcomers eked out just a few votes
September 18, 2009
Diania Turner and Dan Portwood went into the Park City mayoral primary election lacking the name recognition of their other two competitors — the incumbent mayor and his predecessor in City Hall’s highest office.
And the results on Tuesday showed that their upstart campaigns — bids to transform themselves from nondescript candidates to the person occupying the third-floor mayor’s office — did not register with voters.
They eked out a just few votes each in what were some of the poorest showings in recent City Hall campaigns. Portwood managed to win 20 votes, or 2.3 percent of the tally. Turner trailed him by one vote, winning 2.2 percent of the total.
Dana Williams, the incumbent and the top vote-getter on Tuesday as he seeks a third term, won nearly 30 times as many votes as either of them. Brad Olch, the former mayor and long seen as the chief challenger this year, beat each of their totals by more than tenfold. Williams and Olch will face each other on Election Day.
"I think that Park City is just so fortunate to have two great guys who both want to be mayor of Park City," Turner, the owner of the shuttle company Deep Powder Transportation and a consulting firm, said after the results were tabulated.
Portwood, meanwhile, said he is "actually excited" that he was not the last-place finisher. Portwood, a manager at Nutraceutical, said the campaign was enjoyable regardless of the results.
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Turner was especially determined as she mounted the campaign. She was the first person to declare themselves a candidate, publicly stating her intentions nearly a year before she could file campaign papers with City Hall, and she aggressively pressed for changes in the municipal government during the weeks leading up to the primary.
Turner stressed fiscal responsibility and Main Street issues as she sought out voters. During one campaign event, she promised to discover wasteful spending at City Hall if she was put into office.
In an interview after the primary election, Turner indicated she is considering a range of options in government service, including future campaigns and seeking appointments to City Hall panels.
She said she might campaign for the mayor’s office again or run for a seat on the Park City Council. The next mayoral election is in 2013. Three City Council spots will be on the ballot in 2011. She said she might apply for a position on the city’s Planning Commission or Historic Preservation Board when there are openings in the meantime.
Turner also held open the possibility of a bid for the state House of Representatives seat encompassing Park City, now held by Republican Mel Brown. She said she would "like to" seek the seat once lawmakers redraw the district lines after the census in 2010. The first election with the new districts will be in 2012.
She said she would stress economic growth, the "wasteful spending of the state" and nuclear-waste issues if she was a Statehouse candidate. She said she would campaign as an independent. Statehouse candidates from the Park City area have not been successful in recent campaigns, losing repeatedly to politicians from the East Side of Summit County who receive heavy support from the East Side and voters in outlying counties.
"I’m not closing any doors in any area where I can be of service," Turner said.
Portwood said he will consider another campaign, with the mayor’s office remaining of interest as well as a spot on the City Council. He said he intends to submit an application to serve on the Planning Commission when there is an opening. He said traffic and development remain overriding concerns.
"I really would like to help with a few of the issues," Portwood said.
Preliminary primary results: