Voter Guide 2017: City Council candidates bring varied backgrounds
Park Record asks Park City Council candidates questions
October 18, 2017
With Election Day approaching, and mail-in ballots on their way to residents, The Park Record asked each Park City candidate to answer a series of questions in their own words in order to help voters make informed decisions as they fill out and return their ballots. Answers from mayoral candidates can be found here.
Please describe your background and how it prepares you to serve in elected office in Park City.
Mark Blue: I moved from Ohio with a dream to race mountain bikes. My education consisted of engineering from Wright State University and working in engineering for Wright Patterson Airforce Base. After arriving into a small community, I worked in the resorts, construction, restaurants, and property management. There was a passion for this town. I wanted to give back by working with non-profit organizations. I was able to get a better understanding of the people and inner workings of Park City. The town offered me opportunities to grow personally and create the first mobile bicyle shop and sports consignment shop here.
In 2001 everything led me to my first city council campaign. Trying to understand the inner workings of how the city maintanes the daly income and expences of municipality was a learning procces. Back then it was around 80 million dollars. Now we are at more that 110 million in expences. We are growing at an exponential rate, and I have watched it from every angle. My passion for this town is not all about me , but for you and your needs in our comunnity. This is the reason I stand before you, the voting crowd to believe in me.
Tim Henney: Park City has been my home for 26 years. I graduated from Northwestern University in 1980 with a degree in Economics. I then started a 12 year career on Wall Street. In 1992 I moved with my wife, Katherine Scott (divorced), and two children, Theodosia (4) and Scott (2) to Park City where we lived in a restored miner's cabin on lower Woodside. That same summer I was invited to be a founding member of the Mountain Trails Foundation board and served for 10 years. In the mid 90's I was invited onto the board of The Summit Land Conservancy and spent 5 years helping define their vision, mission and build the organization. In the mid 2000's I served six years as the "public" member of an ethics panel for the Office of Professional Conduct of the Utah State Bar Association. I have co-hosted the KPCW public affairs show, The Mountain Life, since 2012. By way of these engagements and my work experience, I am able to recognize the enormous pressure we face from the free market and private sector and to present a credible counterweight to that pressure in order to protect, enhance, and perpetuate our unique, authentic community.
Josh Hobson: Government is a conversation. We need representatives at all levels who balance the needs of even those who do not get involved in the political process and the desires of those who make the most noise. This involves both a need to keep an open mind and the ability to gracefully back away from an idea if public sentiment is against it.
There are several skills that my advocacy and professional kitchen experience have instilled in me. Being a chef is a balance of one's artistic vision with keeping the kitchen crew happy, keeping the guests happy and, at the end of the day, keeping the ownership team happy. These groups all have different desires and different outcomes in mind. Balancing them is part collaboration, part compromise, and certainly a willingness to try new solutions to problems. This collaboration was vital as I organized over 500 people for Park City's March for Science.
If this is to be a complete community, then all segments of the community need to be represented. While I can't speak for all groups, I can certainly listen.
Steve Joyce: I'm serving the final year of my four-year term on the Park City Planning Commission and also serve on the Citizens' Open Space Advisory Committee (COSAC). I co-chair the Park City Rotary's Miner's Day events. I serve on the board of the Summit Land Conservancy, Utah 1033's Advisory Board, Sherriff Justin Martinez's Citizen Advisory Board, and formerly, Friends of Animals Utah's board. I'm a member of Leadership Park City Class 18, president of my community HOA and formerly a Mountain Host for PCMR.
I also have 20 years of business, marketing and strategic planning experience. After graduating from North Carolina State University with a BS in Computer Science, I worked for IBM for 12 years in software development and then co-founded a software company in North Carolina, which we grew to 100 employees and sold five years from its inception. These experiences have enabled me to develop proven capabilities in strategic thinking, managing multi-million dollar budgets, complex and conflicting priorities, and consensus building among diverse organizations.
I feel that my business and strategic planning experience, together with my history of dedicated civic involvement make me uniquely qualified to tackle the many complex issues and challenges facing our extraordinary community.
There has been upheaval in the mountain resort industry in Park City and nationally in recent years. Please discuss the opportunities for Park City, the community, as well as the perils to the community as consolidation of the industry continues. Please describe the relationship you envision the municipal government having with Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.
MB: The mixed feelings that are a part of growing , as two major resorts have sold , can be confusing at best. In the best interest of town, Vail can come to the table with more of a plan to supply an increase in employee housing, and road infrastcuture, like Deer Valley had done in the past. I can only hope that Deer Valley will not make large drastic changes to their style of management and operations. What concerns me, are the mass influx of people that vail has created with the Epic pass, like a drug, that has created an overload to our roads and housing crisis. This is where the city needs to bring boths resorts to a plan. If vail wants to impliment paid parking at the resort, then this will create more problems with traffic in locasl neighborhoods. More grid-lock is not what we need
TH: There must be a clear and shared understanding between the community and the private sector of how we in Park City define "Corporate Citizen" and what obligations and responsibilities come along with that title. Opportunities arise when commercial interests understand how to be contributory to sustaining and perpetuating our authentic community, which I believe is the basis of a successful, long term, business model. Perils arise when they do not, and attempt to define the landscape and terms of engagement, which are inevitable between short sighted profit driven motives and community benefit, to the detriment of our town. Our two resorts must be at a minimum reminded, and possibly educated, as to their obligation and role in building a shared sense of community between full time residents, visitors, and workforce. The obvious opportunities revolve around workforce housing and transportation, each of which the resorts bear a meaningful responsibility and obligation.
JH: Our two resorts are a major hub for economic activity. We got used to the both resorts being good partners for the city, and indeed for many of the biggest issues we face: traffic, employee housing, and sustainability goals, a solid partnership between the community and the resorts is vital in forging a way forward.
There is concern that a nameless capital investment firm taking over one of our internationally recognized resorts will dilute the service, the culture and and the community partnership we have long enjoyed with Deer Valley. I have faith that both of the resorts will continue to recognize the immense benefit to them of community giving and involvement, but maintaining a strong relationship is up to the elected officials as well.
SJ: It's essential that Park City maintain an excellent working relationship with its two biggest employers. Despite a significant misstep with the federal trademark dispute, I applaud the substantial investments Vail is making both at the Park City Mountain Resort and in supporting causes crucial to our community such as youth programs, environmental initiatives, and its impending workforce housing units to be developed at Canyons Village.
With the recent acquisition of Deer Valley, Park City is now home to two of the biggest ski resort operators in North America. It's certainly disconcerting to see what started out as family-owned, privately held businesses succumb to industry consolidation. However, the additional investment and expansion anticipated at these resorts presents new opportunities for Park City to collaborate more closely in pursuing our critical priorities of environment stewardship, increasing workforce housing and local philanthropic initiatives.
City Hall has seen work force or otherwise affordable housing as a priority with varying degrees of success over the past 20-plus years. Please discuss your vision for the municipal government's housing program. Would you continue the program with the same aggressiveness or scale it back? If you want it continued, please identify one location not already identified for housing where you would support a project. If not, explain why the work should be ended.
MB: Housing has always been an issue in Park City and will always be an issue. We are growing and so should our efforts for more housing. Deer Vally has always taken care of their employees with multiple housing units from town to heber with success. Vail should try to model themselves to similar standards. As for what the city can do , there is limited land use in city limits. The city has made inroads for their bus and city employees, but we can do more. One property that has great potential, is the land that is considered BLM on the Rossi hill road, in lower Deer Valley. I know the city has been trying to work with State Gov. to use this land. I believe it would compliment the Line Condos across the street with little impact to the area.
TH: Forty years ago the private sector built Park City housing for the middle class that resulted in authentic neighborhoods like Lower Park Meadows, Thaynes and Prospector. For the last thirty years our neighborhoods have lost ground to market rate housing which no longer creates middle class neighborhoods, only second homes and nightly rentals. I support the current multi-faceted program which partners with the private sector (the recent purchase of Central Park Condos and conversion of 11 market rate units to deed restricted affordable) regulates the private sector (2007 inclusionary zoning ordinance which creates 20% affordable housing obligation for development of 10 units or more) and at times takes lead and oversight in land purchase, planning, and build out when there is an opportunity to seed an area with a critical mass of affordable housing to create an authentic neighborhood, such as Lower Woodside and Bonanza Park. Prospector Square, future project.
JH: $2,000,000 homes are wonderful for developers and those who can afford them, but they do not address our community's needs. Park City needs affordable homes, year round rentals and seasonal rentals. The nightly rental market has taken plenty of Old Town's former workforce housing stock. It is appropriate that council set an aggressive goal, as the private sector would not reach the numbers needed on their own.
I haven't owned a car since 2004 and I have no love for parking lots. There is plenty of potentially viable living space currently being used as a place to store cars. Several of the lots I pass on my bike rarely seem to be more than half full. Towns should be designed around people, not cars, and we must be creative and make some tough decisions when it comes to how we prioritize what land we have available to redevelop.
SJ: Affordable housing is a critical priority for Park City. We are becoming more of a vacation destination and less of a community. Local businesses struggle to fill jobs and when they do, numerous employees will commute into Park City which puts even more pressure on our transportation infrastructure. While the current goal of 800 new affordable units in town is impressive, I don't believe we have the money or the land to make that all happen. Additionally, our current plans lack affordable rental offerings. Many of Park City's workers can't qualify to purchase "affordable" $250,000 units and the Airbnb economy has slashed rental alternatives.
I feel we need to utilize public/private partnerships to achieve that goal instead of Park City taking the lead role in the development of these units.
I would advocate for moving our salt storage and vehicle maintenance and utilizing the prime Ironhorse property for affordable housing.
Park City's busy calendar of special events brings economic opportunities but also impacts neighborhoods as large crowds descend on the community. Does the schedule of special events properly balance the economic opportunities against the peacefulness wishes of the people who live in Park City? Please outline one new step you would support to ensure special events do not put undue stress on the neighborhoods.
MB: So far most events are planned fairly well for the summer time activities. The largest and most problematic event is Sundance. It affect , not only the community, but puts the largest burden on the employees of town. Add to the problem of snow and construction for the perfect STORM. Last Sundance , I believe the city did a better job with snow removal than I have ever see before in this town. This along with letting local residents park in the China bridge overnight and not fining anyone was amazing. If we could impliment better planning with all construction crews during Sundance, and give better parking opportunities for workers , Sundance could run smoother as with all events in P.C.
TH: A year ago the current Council created the Special Events Advisory Committee, comprised of members of our diverse neighborhoods, in order to get citizen feedback on event impacts and directed event staff to no longer promote events. Up until this time the posture had been to promote events in the shoulder seasons and continue to look for events that aligned with community interests in order to capture additional economic benefit. My assessment is we, as a community, are evenly split on whether or not the current load of events exceeds our collective threshold but where events impact specific neighborhoods with noise, traffic congestion, and illegal parking there is little doubt additional measures are needed to address the concerns of affected residents or risk denial of future event permitting. Regulating vehicle access, limiting time of day and noise levels, creating rest between events are steps to relieve stress in affected neighborhoods.
JH: The city, both council and staff, spend a good amount of time answering the question of event fatigue. With the community outreach of SEAC and beyond, the city makes a good effort to hear the concerns of residents in this regard.
As an Old Town resident, I would like to see more of a code enforcement presence on our neighborhood streets during events to assure that our guests are not taking up residents' parking spots. Especially during Sundance, when there is plenty that toes the line between vibrancy and public nuisance, coming home to find a car with out-of-state plates in your spot will try the most patient, forgiving souls. And I don't even own a car!
Part of the solution is to work with event organizers and transportation companies to promote a car-free stay for our out-of-town guests.
SJ: Someone coined the term "event fatigue" and I think it's a great expression. We love our local events! But as they grow in number and size, we are faced with substantially more traffic congestion, increased parking limitations and noise, and shrinking access for locals. The businesses along Main Street are affected almost continuously throughout the year. I have attended several Special Events Advisory Committee (SEAC) meetings and they are currently evaluating Park City's ability to adequately support its proliferating events. We may need to set limits on the size and number of concurrent events in town, as well as make significant improvements to our noise and parking ordinance enforcement. Additional mitigation of event impacts on local residents must be a top priority.
Traffic remains a primary cause of displeasure in Park City decades after the beginning of the skiing-era boom. Why, in your estimation, does City Hall continue to struggle to craft a transportation plan that provides clear results in reducing traffic? Please identify one new traffic-fighting measure you would support and list one such measure you pledge to oppose.
MB: I would definitely support a dedicated lane for busses. There are some simple ideas, that we can implement 1) if we create 2 temporary lanes on 248 into town from 8a.m. to 10a.m. , then reverse it to 2 lanes out of town on 248 between 3p.m. to 5p.m., that could take care of the backup. The police department has directed traffic before, moving people out of town . 2) As 224/ Park ave intersects with Deer Valley drive, we could make it a 2 lane turn onto Deer Valley drive by painting a left turn arrow with a strait arrow towards Park Avenue where it bottle necks just to one left turn onto Deer Valley drive. People turn left in the striaght lane to Park Avenue
A micro-transit idea can work , if it is app based with local transit companies and subsidized by both employers and the city.
TH: Prior to 2015 there were studies and lots of talk about traffic but not enough action, the result is frustration and a sense that nothing will ever be done about traffic and congestion. In 2015 the Council recognized Transportation as a Critical Priority of the community and an organizing principle for staff. Since then plans have been crafted, funds identified and allocated, and steps are being implemented (paid parking in Historic commercial district, dedicated bus lanes and signal prioritization on 224, leap frogged UDOT timeline for 248 redesign, formed regional transportation management committee, placed police in intersections to reduce in-load and out-load gridlock) to reduce traffic and congestion. That's a lot of action in a short period of time. I support free parking for visitors outside of entry corridors (satellite parking) with paid parking inside, I oppose expenditure of funds that build infrastructure to promote reliance on single occupancy vehicles.
JH: One cause of our traffic snarls is the combination of modest pay and high housing costs means most of our service and retail workers commute from outside of town. That there are only two roads in and out of town seems unlikely to change. Reversible or HOV lanes may help with the bottlenecks.
These issues are being addressed with the Kamas bus route, expansion of the Salt Lake Connector and the improved service between Kimball and Old Town. I support changes underway like smart signalling on the buses and reserving 224's shoulder as a full time bus lane will help improve timing for our transit fleet. With those improvements, we who live here need to continue to change our own travel habits. The unexpectedly high usage of the the Summit Bike Share shows we are willing to do our part.
SJ: I support many of the city's current transit initiatives, particularly those attempting to reduce our dependency on cars. This requires using both the carrot (providing free, improved mass transit) and the stick (charging for parking). Adding bus routes, activating park and rides, updating parking infrastructure and creating bus/HOV lanes requires quite a lot of time and money. I would like to see us focus more of our efforts on coordinating our transit strategy with Wasatch County, particularly given their expansive development plans.
I've been opposed to the Micro Transit proposals. Park City was moving down a path to spend $350K – $680K for a six month trial period which lacked any measurable objectives for ridership or cost per ride projections. I could never support such a costly expense without being able to thoroughly evaluate the financial alternatives to the proposal and quantify the cost versus benefit to the community.
City Hall over time has made significant progress in its relationship with the federal government, pressing Washington on a variety of issues. Please discuss your vision of the municipal government's relationship with the Trump administration. Do you see City Hall's agenda as aligning with that of the president? If so, please identify issues of alignment. If not, describe how the break with the president will affect the work of City Hall.
MB: Since our City elections are nonpartisan ( not Republican or Democrat ) , I will not make any statement to this question, and just take a knee on this.
TH: Until the Trump Presidency has a credible administration I don't think there is much time or effort that needs to be devoted to a relationship with it (I don't tweet). The good news is that the dysfunction of the federal government creates a profound contrast for our local government, which based on my four years on Council I believe we can all be proud of. Our community's agenda, and therefore City Hall's, does, for the most part, not align with that of the President. We hold dear the notion of a safe, diverse, and complete community and believe in Social Justice. We understand the climate is changing and are committed to doing what we can to contribute to the collective global effort to stem the tide and minimize the fall out. We know that freedom of speech and a free press are rights guaranteed and protected by the Constitution.
JH: As a city, it is important to work with the career rank and file employees of a federal agency regardless of the president. We need to continue to have a strong relationship with the EPA as we clean the legacy of our unregulated mining past. The President's current budget calls for a $90B cut to transit projects across the country and if we want $1 B to build a hyperloop from the airport to Park City (gate to slopes in 45 seconds), we will have to use federal DOT funding.
When President Trump forwards policy that is an affront to our shared values as a community: removing protections for the environment, bringing daily worry to our immigrant communities or singling out the faithful of one particular religion for suspicion, we must react. We must band together with other like-minded communities in our state and nation to resist.
SJ: Historically, Park City has had limited interactions with the federal government. While we have received federal grants, taken ownership of BLM property and cooperated with the EPA, I have never considered Park City to be tied to any particular administration.
Unfortunately, I do think that the current administration's policies are out of sync with Park City's priorities. Examples include reducing environmental controls, providing fewer dollars for open space programs, withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, and ending DACA. Park City should continue to pursue its strategic priorities in partnership with the federal government where we are aligned and in spite of the federal government where we are not.