Guest editorial: Stevens’ background sets her apart in County Council race |

Guest editorial: Stevens’ background sets her apart in County Council race

Alex Butwinski
Former Park City councilor

Small town elections are tough. Very often friends are running for the same position and that makes decisions all the more difficult. A well-deserved thank you goes to Park City Television, KPCW and The Park Record for broadcasting the annual Park City Rotary candidate forum. We were able to see that both candidates are eminently qualified. Both are articulate, thoughtful and committed to serving Summit County. However, one candidate’s experience sets her apart, which is why I am voting for Malena Stevens.

The choice for voters comes down to what differentiates these candidates. One candidate is a businessman from the private sector and one candidate has extensive experience in the public sector. It is not a “false narrative” to describe the other four current council members as businessmen. In fact, all of their careers have been in the private sector — Roger Armstrong has successfully run a law practice; Chris Robinson has owned and operated multiple businesses; Glenn Wright is a Vietnam veteran who also was an insurance company executive; and Doug Clyde has worked for and with multi-million dollar land planning businesses for many years. Retiring Councilmember Kim Carson has been the only member of the council whose experience has not been in the private sector, and her perspective is a vital component of council decisions.

Two of the current members of council are again running unopposed, which makes it all the more important to ensure a diversity of views on council. At the end of the day, business and the private sector are profit motivated. That’s not a bad thing, but it presents a whole different set of parameters for decisions and budgeting. With her experience in the public sector, Stevens has a firm understanding of how government budgets operate and how we can better use the budget to help individuals, families and our local businesses as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic. We will have a more dynamic council if we have leaders with different backgrounds and experience from different sectors.

The public sector is quite different than the private sector. Budgeting is not as simple as “money comes in and money goes out.” Having been both a business owner and a city councilor I can attest to that. The public sector is not, nor should it be, profit driven. It is there to serve the public interest, safety and welfare. It’s not about a return on investment. It’s about listening to what’s important to people and making difficult choices about how to meet those needs and provide necessary services.

We like to say he or she “checks all the boxes” as we evaluate candidates. As in other local elections both these candidates recognize the importance of transportation solutions, growth and regional collaboration. What differentiates them is their career experience and here the distinctions are clear. Malena has been a victim advocate, managed a government budget, worked on domestic violence, suicide prevention, mental health outreach, graduated from Leadership Park City and served as a Snyderville Basin planning commissioner.

Malena’s master’s degree in public administration provides her with the knowledge of how government works and the importance of building consensus. Those insights and her career experiences will provide an alternative perspective necessary to debate the pros and cons of policy decisions.

This primary is unlike most others. The successful candidate in this primary election will be the winner of the November general election barring a successful write-in candidate. Malena is my clear choice for Summit County Council, please consider her yours as well.

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