County political parties fire starting gun for pivotal 2008 council race
The reality of last year’s vote to switch Summit County’s government over from a three-person commission to a five-person council likely won’t hit home until next spring when the Democrats and Republicans start scouring the county-side for eligible, or at least, electable candidates. But some of the groundwork for that watershed election is being laid this week.
Thursday evening, the county’s GOP met at the South Summit Middle School to elect new officers and review its bylaws. The Democrats will hold their organizing convention this afternoon at the Legacy Lodge at Park City Mountain Resort. The meeting, though not likely to draw much attention from regular voters, has the potential to set the tone for the next election.
Generally, partisan politics don’t play as big a role in rural areas as they do in metropolitan districts, but in Summit County the political divide has been deep and divisive.
The results of the 2006 election that tipped, just barely, in favor of establishing the new form of government revealed exactly how wide the aisle is between Summit County’s Democrats and Republicans. Without exception, the majority of voters in every East Side precinct backed the Republican commission candidate and opposed the change of government. On the West Side it was the reverse. The majority of voters in Park City and Snyderville sided with the Democratic candidate and supported the change of government.
Unfortunately, with the Republicans meeting in Kamas and the Democrats staking out their territory in Park City, it looks like the two opposing teams haven’t changed much. But if the newly chosen leaders truly want the best for their constituents they will spend the next year working to find candidates who can reach out to both sides of the county.
Eastern and western Summit county residents are facing the same critical issues. Among the most important are: regulating growth in a way that stimulates economic development without compromising existing neighborhoods, preserving air and water quality, maintaining a safe and efficient infrastructure and bringing it all in at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.
Since both parties are meeting mid-election season while the political temperature is still cool, each would be wise to reach out to constituents on the other side of the divide and with five seats up for election in November of 2008, citizens and party leaders should be on the lookout for new county candidates that will be able to communicate effectively with all segments of our diverse county.
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Judy Horwitz writes in a guest editorial that Summit County voters must continue to support a vital source of funding for the area’s arts and culture institutions.