Voter Guide 2017: Prominent politicians face off in mayoral race
Park Record asks Park City mayoral candidates questions
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 City Council candidates can be found here.
Please describe your background and how it prepares you to serve in elected office in Park City.
Andy Beerman: Park City has been home since 1995 when I arrived in a VW van with a job but no place to live. I sold bikes, rented skis, washed dishes, and carried luggage before becoming an accidental hotelier. I met my wife at the Treasure Mountain Inn where we later became owner-operators. Under our management, we ended longstanding conflicts, championed a remodel, and implemented cutting-edge eco-practices. My shift to community involvement began as President of the Historic Park City Alliance where I facilitated a visioning to build consensus and improve its relationship with the City. I regularly attended City meetings before being elected to Council in 2011. I was re-elected in 2015. I’m known as a coalition builder, goal-setter, fiscally savy, and resident-centric in my actions, yet regional in my problem-solving. I serve on several regional boards: Utah League of Cities and Towns, Central Wasatch Commission, and EPA Local Gov’t Advisory Council. Locally, I’ve been a board member/liaison to: both City and Basin Open Space Committees, Mountain Trails, Olympic Exploratory Committee, Economic Task Force, Summit Land Conservancy, Recycle Utah, and Summit Community Power Works. I recently sold my business so I could focus my time and energy to the Mayor’s office.
Dana Williams: While farming in eastern Summit County in the 1980’s, I was asked to participate in a newly formed land trust where the goal was to use conservation easements to protect open space and family farms. This organization became Utah Open Lands and several years later I cofounded the Summit Land Conservancy. During this time we created the Citizens Allied for Responsible Growth to promote participation in local issues. Community involvement inspired me to run for Mayor in 2001 where I proudly served from 2002 to 2014. Our participation in land conservation and community activism led both the city and county governments to focus on housing, open space, environmental issues and growth. I was honored to be Mayor during the Olympics, which showed the world just how great Park City is and also helped lead us through the recession, which we weathered well. After the Olympics, we reorganized city hall, created the Sustainability Department, substantially increased our open space and trails, designed Quinn’s Junction, added affordable housing, cleaned up several Superfund sites and created a multi seasonal resort economy. My proven leadership as Mayor paired with my dedication to the community has prepared me to hold this office.
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.
AB: Not long ago, Park City had three local resorts and one five-star hotel–how quickly things can change! The challenge for the next Mayor is to strengthen our community so we can adjust to new corporate influences, preserve our mountain town culture, and protect our sense of place. A strong community is the best counter-balance to the erosive impacts of a booming economy. Our new partners are here to stay, so we must maintain good working relationships, encourage them to be community-minded, and create ‘side-boards’ (ie the new chain-store ordinance) to protect the essence of our town. The resorts are essential to our economy–and are our local playgrounds–but our authentic community is why they thrive and succeed. We must put community first and work closely with our resorts to mitigate their negative impacts. With a firm, constructive approach we can build relationship to make us all stronger.
DW: The relationship with Deer Valley and the Park City community has been exceptional. I am pleased the entity that purchased Deer Valley has retained the COO, who is one of us! There has always been a mutual respect of “brands” and I expect this to continue. The acquisition of PCMR is a different story, and has been difficult at times. Vail’s attempt at trademarking our name was fraught with problems. While the city attempted to contract with them to protect the city, there were those of us who felt this was a non-starter and should have been answered with a blatant “Absolutely Not”! We organized, petitioned, wrote letters and demonstrated to protect something we felt was sacred to us. The citizen-based activism was successful and I have continued to meet with Vail leadership to make the ongoing transition mutually acceptable.
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.
AB: I have a simple adage: ‘Government exists to do what the free market can’t or won’t.’ We are struggling to maintain a complete community, against the economic forces of scarcity and demand; all while maintaining a workforce to sustain our economy. For these reasons, it benefits Park City to facilitate some affordable housing. We need to: 1) keep our community diverse; 2) maintain a middle-class; and 3) reduce traffic. There are critical needs across the spectrum, which include rentals, senior housing, and homes for young families. We can strengthen our community by building some of this in town, but should also expand our transit options to better access regional housing. Meanwhile, we should address other affordability issues like transportation, child care, rising utilities and the creation of better jobs. The Sommer parcel near Rail Central is worth considering as a combo project of open space and housing.
DW: While I am generally supportive of the continuing efforts for affordable housing, there are areas we have not explored. One area to consider would be to look at market rate units. For example, the city recently purchased a new eleven-unit project in Prospector. Had the city looked at current market rates of units in older or existing projects, they could have purchased twice as many units for the same price. It is important to continue to explore public-private partnerships to achieve our goals as compared to the city becoming the major developer in this community. Given the fact that we are almost built out, we need to be looking beyond our borders to find opportunities to create more affordable housing. I am not supportive of getting rid of height regulations to achieve more housing. I also feel that a better collaboration with Summit County could ensure more diversity of 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.
AB: Most of us love events, but too many events add to the rising intensity that threatens our laid-back mountain culture. Park City’s popularity and strong economy have created stability and new opportunities, but at a cost to our quality of life. After hearing deep concerns from our residents, I lobbied for the creation of the Special Event Advisory Council (SEAC) to help Council better evaluate the impact of events upon our community. I agree with SEAC’s recommendations that we need to limit new events, aggressively mitigate traffic impacts, address noise impacts, reduce City subsidies and evaluate each event’s true costs/benefits. As a result, Council has reduced event funding, refined the requirements, and prioritized mitigation. We need to strike a better balance, which means measuring community thresholds, evaluating the value of each event, and reducing the impacts on our residents and neighborhoods.
DW: In an economic study following the Olympics we learned that 80% of our sales tax revenue was generated in merely one hundred days over the winter. This was not a sustainable economic model and we needed to create a better balance. The philosophy was to create events that locals would participate in and we would invite the world to be part of. The concept of our open space becoming an economic driver was a dream we never thought would happen, but it has! The utilization of our facilities on a year round basis has worked. Being a resort, it is important that we remain attractive to those who visit us while being careful not to create gridlock due to so many events happening at the same time. I remain supportive of the committee created to review events and advise the city of the impact.
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.
AB: Growth is the top issue in Park City, and traffic the largest impact of growth. Traffic can be mitigated, but requires expensive investments and difficult behavior change. Preserving our community character demands a human-scale town less dependent upon single occupancy vehicles. Park City wisely established our bus system in 1977 which services about 2 million riders annually. As we grow and evolve, so must our tools. Today’s Park City requires a seamless web of connectivity. Trails and walkability are critical; as is electrified transit and people-movers to connect our resorts and commercial cores. New regional routes and the Xpress bus system will address some workforce needs. We need innovative solutions like smaller transit vehicles, e-bikes, responsive traffic sensors, dynamic parking, and better digital communication tools. As Mayor I would work with our lodging/resort/event partners to market park City as a ‘car-optional’ town and incentivize their guests to not bring cars.
DW: The continued struggle with traffic is similar to other resorts that are in box canyons. With only two ways to get into town, we are limited in our options. There has been talk of making a year round route over Guardsman’s Pass as well as utilizing the Rail Trail for traffic, two options that I am completely opposed to.
One area that does have potential is creating three lanes on Highway 248. We have the room for three lanes, which would function as two lanes coming into town in the morning and change to two lanes leaving in the afternoon. We need to work with the school district to help alleviate the daily bottleneck that occurs during the morning commute. We can work closely with the largest employers to create incentives for some of our work force to use park and ride lots.
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.
AB: Local government is the government that most impacts our daily lives. I am grateful we are non-partisan and effective on a local level. Park City is focused on community needs, and its Mayor should represent community values. However, we need to maintain our healthy relationship with State/Federal officials. Park City works with the EPA on soils/water issues, regularly receives federal funding for our transit, and partners with other Utah towns to protect local authority. We have limited influence on federal issues like immigration or climate policy, but we can create a safe environment for our immigrants, and we have made a commitment to renewable energy. Many of us moved to Park City to escape reality and enjoy our mountain paradise. As the ‘world goes mad,’ we are best served strengthening our community, maintaining constructive political relationships, and representing our values here at home, where we can make the biggest impacts.
DW: Our relationship with the federal delegation has never been based on the Executive branch. Regardless of the presidency, it has been important to maintain an ongoing dialogue with our congressional representatives. I was proud of working with the delegation during my tenure. Congressman Bishop facilitated our presentation to a Senate subcommittee that resulted in the preservation of April Mountain. Senator Hatch helped with the dialogue on the Air Force when the idea of a ten-story hotel was proposed for Quinn’s Junction. The relationships we developed were based on mutual respect and realizing that we do not have to agree on everything, but it was incumbent upon us to further our shared visions. I look forward to working with them again, especially on DACA and immigration, transportation, EPA and other issues the citizens of Park City find important.
According to Summit County’s website, ballots will begin arriving through the mail on or around Friday, Oct. 20. Returned ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 6. There will also be a number of drop-off locations for ballots throughout the county.
The Christian Center of Park City had a makeover last year, and its boutique felt it was time for one, too.