Mending political fences begins in our own backyard |

Mending political fences begins in our own backyard

The Park Record editorial, Dec. 21-23, 2016


Since Election Day, there has been enough handwringing and lamenting over the nation’s deep political rift to make anyone – conservative or liberal — want to hibernate for the rest of the winter. But there is a better solution. Let’s focus on the issues that divide our own local landscape. If we can find common ground here in the mountains, maybe there is hope for the rest of the country.

As reported earlier, Summit County’s East and West sides are clearly split into two political camps. According to last month’s final tally, all of the the precincts west of US 40 (Park City and the Snyderville Basin) sided with the Democratic candidates from the top to the bottom of the ballot. Their counterparts on the east side — in Henefer, Coalville, Kamas, Oakley and Francis – threw their support behind each of the Republican candidates.

But even with record-breaking turnout, the East Side’s four small towns were outvoted by Park City and the Basin. That didn’t matter much in the statewide races, where Utah’s overwhelmingly conservative voters successfully held sway over the state legislature and congressional delegation, but they lost both contested seats on the county council.

That means East Siders probably feel as disenfranchised at the county courthouse as West Siders feel in the statehouse.

But if we learned anything from this election it is that being disenfranchised can galvanize a movement that divides communities, stymies progress and eventually discourages reasonable citizens from seeking public office.

Summit County is made up of a unique mix of diverse cultures that, over time have come to rely on each other for economic and cultural balance. The rural East Side offers respite from growth and development while the West Side provides an economic engine that sustains livelihoods throughout the region.

It will be up to the five Democratic leaders on the County Council to ensure all of those voices are heard as they work through a number of complex issues related to public and private land use, sensible environmental regulations and viable economic development. And it will be up to east Siders to continue being active participants as those decisions are being made. In that way, even if the nation and the state flip flop between liberal and conservative agendas, Summit County will be able to sustain a more stable course.

From our distant vantage point here in the Wasatch Mountains, it is easy to see how partisanship has crippled the nation’s capitol. Let’s not make the same mistake.

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