Amy Roberts: Red card Roberts
It's almost voting season
Summers in Park City tend to go by in a blink. One day you’re hanging up the skis for the season, the next there are a few outdoor concerts, a couple of parades, a silly Sunday or two, and then suddenly it’s time to pull out the skis back out and take them in for a tune-up.
In the two decades I’ve lived here, that’s how it’s always been. But this summer seemed to play by a different set of sunny rules. Before this year, my Park City tenure has never included an August that didn’t demand covering the tomatoes or a September we didn’t wake to white-capped peaks. Neither were the case this year. It was 85 degrees when the pumpkin spice lattes debuted at my local coffee shop. And summer didn’t just hang around longer than usual, it came around sooner too. My little window AC unit clocked in earlier than normal, when temperatures reached the high 80s near the start of June.
It’s all about to come to a screeching, albeit late, halt. If the meteorologists are correct, bikinis will be quickly swapped for beanies, and puffy jackets worn with shorts and flip flops will once again be the town’s fashion statement.
Perhaps it’s because this summer languished longer than usual, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea we are just weeks away from an election. Voting always seems like such a cold-weather activity. Peppermint mocha kind of stuff.
But the midterms are indeed just over a month away. And, aside from who will represent us — from the local school board to Capitol Hill — there are some important issues on our ballots to weigh in on too.
The first of course is the Treasure bond. Park City has a long and proud tradition of voting to protect open space. Regardless of political beliefs, we have generally agreed we prefer trails and wildlife to billion-dollar convention centers.
Yet voting to preserve what is known as Treasure Hill and the Armstrong/Snow Ranch Pasture is atypically divisive. Some say the $64 million price tag — most of which would come from the $48 million bond — to secure land that is potentially un-developable is wildly inflated. Others aren’t willing to take the risk. If built, they say, the proposed project would not only forever tarnish the hillside, it would add unsustainable traffic to narrow Old Town roads and stress an already outdated infrastructure.
Though I have questions about the assessment and development potential, it seems clear there is no “back to the negotiating table” after this. And if this is our one shot to prevent the hillside from becoming a theme park, I think it’s wise to vote in favor of an estimated $200 per year for 16 years, assuming an assessed value of $800,000 for a primary residence.
There are a few other opportunities to spend more money on noble causes. If the majority of the state votes on a gas tax increase, there will be additional funding for public schools and local roads. I don’t have children and I put about 600 miles a year on my car. But I personally prefer living in an educated society and not dodging potholes that could swallow a golf cart, so this too seems like a wise investment.
The same goes for a proposed nominal sales tax increase, which will expand Medicaid health coverage for low-income adults. I happen to think healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and I’ll happily pay a few extra cents each time I check out at the grocery store to help someone living in poverty to get a flu shot or mammogram.
I’m also a proponent of easing the suffering for those with cancer, MS, ALS, chronic pain, and a host of other painful illnesses, which is why I’ll vote in favor of the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, known as Proposition 2. If passed, the measure will allow sick and suffering Utahns to legally access cannabis if their doctors feel it can help them.
State Senator Evan Vickers (R–Cedar City) and Representative Brad Daw (R–Orem) oppose the initiative, claiming: “The harm to our youth is predictable and measurable.”
I have news for these two: Toxic air, an inadequate investment in education, and a fanatical desire to hand a rifle to any kid over age five also cause predictable and measurable harm to our youth. Perhaps their concern for kids should be a bit broader than denying access to a plant-based medicine for those who need it.
To learn more about the issues on our ballots and decide which box you’ll check, visit elections.utah.gov.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.