Amy Roberts: Popular platforms
Red Card Roberts
I have often said one of the best things about living in Park City is that when I don’t know what I’m doing, someone else sure seems to. For all the international accolades, celebrity second homeowners, and media-worthy events, we are, at our core, still a small town.
One has to look no further than their mailbox for proof. Those of us in the 84060 received our ballots a couple weeks ago. And I’d venture to say, most of us personally know many, if not all, of the people listed on it. By the time my next column prints, we’ll have a new mayor and at least one, perhaps two, new city council members.
As for who I think those people should be — I’ve remained strategically, if not abnormally quiet on the matter. It’s counterintuitive to be sure — an opinion writer stating she’s keeping her opinion to herself. But, alas, it is a small town. And no matter who is elected, I will have to see them at the grocery store and work with them professionally. Both of which are less awkward when you haven’t actively campaigned against them.
Aside from those reasons, I’ve also remained rather mum because truth be told, it’s been a bit of a struggle to truly differentiate the candidates, at least by their platforms. They all seem to want the same things: More open space, less traffic. More affordable housing, less development. More community, less carbon footprint.
Despite not being overtly vocal this election, I have certainly paid attention. I’ve attended candidate forums, questioned them in person, and read their answers in the voter guides. As such, I’ve noticed one topic that seems to be missing from all the likemindedness — Park City’s vanishing middle class.
Perhaps it’s not part of the discussion because, at last count, there were only 12 of us. It’s not wise long-term planning to commit to a group on the brink of extinction. There’s a lot of talk about the working class. To keep them here, the plan seems to be to tax the other 96% of the residents who, presumably, can afford it. But therein lies the problem. That’s a woefully misguided assumption.
I am fortunate that I don’t qualify for affordable housing. This isn’t due to my salary, but rather my stubbornness. When I moved to Park City in my twenties, I was determined to buy a house. I couldn’t afford it, but back then, banks gave anyone with a pulse any amount of money requested. I got a loan, roommates, another job, and made it work.
Purchasing my home turned out to be a wise decision, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle to live here. Every year the cost to do so rises; my income does not keep pace. Many of my friends in the same tax bracket as I am abandoned ship. The pastures in Heber and Kamas might not be greener, but they sure are cheaper. They still work here, their kids still attend Park City schools, and this town is where they recreate. All of which adds to our traffic and carbon footprint. But it’s the seasonal workers we tend to focus on most. Maybe that’s the right thing to do, but my friends driving back and forth from Heber four times a day would likely disagree.
To be clear, I believe we should help the underserved. I give to The Christian Center, People’s Health Clinic, and Habitat for Humanity, because I absolutely believe this community benefits from each of those organizations, and the people who need them.
But this town also benefits from our middle-class residents. And they’ve been largely left out of the planning.
Not too long ago I heard a candidate state something to the effect that if Rocky Mountain Power would not honor the town’s commitment to solar energy, we’d build our own solar grid.
As I considered this statement, I realized that if it ever came to fruition, I would have to buy solar panels for my house. I looked into that once. It was going to cost about $8,000 and save me $40 a month. It wasn’t an expense I could justify then, and I committed to making other eco-friendly changes. But as far fetched as it might be, if the town went totally solar, I’d have two choices: 1. Cough up the money. 2. Live without electricity.
Or I guess, I could move to Heber and let this town’s 11 other middle-class residents figure it out.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud ofwner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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