Write-in candidate to challenge incumbent Summit County Councilor
September 11, 2018
Summit County voters will now have two County Council candidates in one race to choose from in the November election, but Josh Mann's name won't appear on the ballot alongside incumbent candidate Glenn Wright's.
Mann, an independent, filed as a write-in candidate on Friday, mounting his campaign roughly a month before ballots will be sent to voters. His name won't appear on the ballot, but a line under the section for County Council Seat E will indicate to voters a write-in has filed. Mann is seeking a four-year term.
Mann is the only person challenging a Democratic incumbent in the Summit County government races, which include two County Council seats and five department head positions. The Summit County Republican Party did not field any candidates for the other positions. He said the fact that there were seven Democratic incumbents running unopposed didn't sit well with him.
"Elections are the most important time — whether it's national or local — for people to talk and come up with new ideas, and that generally happens when multiple people are running for a position," he said. "The real impetus for me is that it's an important time in Summit County and we have seen unprecedented growth. It's the perfect time to talk about it, but when no one is running that conversation is going to be lost."
Mann, who lives in Jeremy Ranch with his wife and two young boys, said he has closely followed county politics since 2012 when he became fed up with the redesign of Kimball Junction. He then created the Park Rag, an online blog, as a way to keep his followers informed of major projects that go before the County Council, Snyderville Basin Planning Commission and other government bodies, while sharing his opinions on the decisions. He has never run for office.
"I haven't really run for an election so I'm probably a bit of an outsider," he said. "However, I have watched how the county works. I've observed countless hours of how decisions are made. I believe I grasp the big issues facing our communities."
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The county's communication with the public is one of the main areas Mann said needs improving. He touted his experience running the Park Rag as an example of how he could help better reach an audience that mainly receives their information online.
"When you are a County Councilor, you have more insight and knowledge of what is going on," he said. "You have the ability to ask the planning department what is coming down the pipe. What I want to do as part of that is create a newsletter people can subscribe to and hold online chats around 9 p.m. after kids go to bed."
Mann said decisions about development projects are often made without much foresight. He referenced the county's plans to create a transit-oriented development at the Cline Dahle parcel, located at the entrance of Jeremy Ranch, and the height exception the County Council granted for Woodward Park City, the action-sports camp slated for Gorgoza Park.
"Cline Dahle is a big issue for me," he said. "Do we really want 2,000 cars going past the elementary school at 8 a.m.? I know we need affordable housing, but we need to get a handle on how we are going to manage it and where it should go."
Some of the other topics Mann identified as important include strengthening the economies on the East Side of the county. He praised the County Council's decision to use transient room taxes (TRT) to fund the new buildings at the County Fairgrounds in Coalville.
"I would like to look at the TRT and to see how we can use that money to strengthen our other communities in recreation and tourism," he said. "Could we build a baseball field in Coalville? Can we do those sorts of things where we can use the taxes and invest in the East Side?"
Mann said he knows winning the seat as a write-in candidate will be an uphill battle. But, he added, a contested race will help him create a conversation about county politics.
"I am trying to challenge the County Council," he said. "I believe I bring a critical eye to the Council. I'm not afraid to call it like I see it and vote no. Perhaps more importantly, though, I have two young children. So every decision I would make includes thinking about how they will grow up here for the next 15 years. I think having young children is a big differentiator between those on the County Council currently and me."
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Mann is a Republican. He is a registered independent.