Max Greenhalgh, thanks for your editorial in the Wednesday, Feb. 3 edition of The Park Record. Though we’ve re-examined this decision several times since 2002 when Summit County voted to change the form of governance from "Commission" to "Council/Manager," it never hurts to look yet again. I agree with you — we must elect people who can represent all parts of Summit County to ensure that all voices are heard. It was good to be reminded of the "Gentlemen’s Agreement" when our population was more evenly distributed between North, South and West Summit County. The population numbers changed drastically and Gene Moser successfully broke that agreement which was a good thing because suddenly there was more fairness in representation.
As western Summit County continued to grow, the numbers became even more skewed toward that region, though eastern Summit County continued to be well-represented by Sheldon Richins, Jim Soter, Pat Cone, Ken Woolstenhulme and David Ure.
Arguably, North Summit is the smallest region with a 2010 Census population of 3,467. South Summit is nearly double that with a population of 6,510. Park City now has a population of 7,964 with the remainder of Western Summit County at 18, 467 for a total Western Summit County population of 26,431, or approaching 3 times the population of Eastern Summit County. The numbers have changed in the thirty years I’ve lived here and the representation has changed rather naturally to reflect that.
Research we did in 2002 indicated that when Council Members were elected by geographic regions, those members tended to be parochial in their support and outlook. I continue to believe that when we elect Council Members "at large" we elect people who have a county-wide focus and are familiar with and interested in the concerns of the diverse population. I personally knocked on every door I could reach, at least five times during my various campaigns. Though I didn’t always get the vote at the door, I got a very broad perspective of the interests of Summit County. Why change that?
Why give "gerrymandering" a chance as we divvy up the population into representative districts? Why increase the emphasis on population districts? We have somehow managed to keep one seat within the corporate limits of Park City since Gene Moser in 1990. We have managed to keep at least one and sometimes two seats on the east side of the county. We’ve usually had one or more representatives from Snyderville, though not always. It seems to me that the unfairness in representation has been Snyderville, which has the largest population of Summit County and no incorporated entity to represent them.
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A reader in Park City suggests a bold move — the municipal government, he says, should convert City Hall into affordable housing.