Mayors leave an indelible mark on their communities
If Park City’s three-term Mayor Dana Williams had a tag line, it might read, "We built this city on rock and roll." Over the last 12 years, Park City citizens have proudly pointed out that their Hawaiian-shirted mayor plays in a rock and roll band and works as a local barista.
Williams’ colorful character and musical talent, though, belie his credentials as a soil conservation expert and a skilled social activist. His environmental bent is based on time spent managing his family’s farm in Coalville and his political platform was honed by years of participation in grassroots citizen groups.
This week, Williams announced he will not be seeking another term, ending a tenure that focused on environmentalism and serving regular citizens. He emphasized that he was making the announcement well ahead of the official filing deadline in order to give potential candidates lots of time to consider running. Like the mayors who came before him, Williams has represented a particular period in time.
Coincidentally, one of his predecessors, Leon Uriarte, passed away this week.
Uriarte served in the 1970s when the city’s future was still fragile, long before the city earned its bragging rights as an Olympic host. And like the city he served at the time, he was a humble man, a beloved school custodian and city maintenance supervisor.
In 1978 Jack Green, was elected mayor and inherited the difficult task of reconciling a town in transition between a dwindling population of old-timers and an influx of new residents. Befitting the times, he was a deft diplomat, open to new ideas but sensitive to Park City’s hard-won heritage as a historic mining town.
Then came Hal Taylor, with his cowboy hat, his swagger and infectious laugh. Taylor was emblematic of a fast-growing ski town whose reputation was on the rise.
When Taylor stepped down, the seat was filled by Brad Olch, whose financial acumen helped groom Park City to host the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Olch’s contributions were more of the behind-the-scenes variety, but no less vital. Under his direction the city invested in open space and became a more professional operation.
Each mayor has left an indelible stamp on Park City. Unlike individual city councilors, who are characterized by their ability to work as a team, a mayor is asked to represent the personality of his or her community.
Park City has been extremely lucky to have benefited from the service of a long list of colorful and committed public servants.
The question now is: What kind of mayor will best represent Park City’s future and, importantly, who is willing to serve?
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