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Park City Mayoral Candidate Roger Armstrong Talks to KPCW

Roger Armstrong said Park City is evolving and needs a higher skill set to lead the way.

It's election year in Park City and three men, Roger Armstrong, Andy Beerman and Dana Williams are running for the Mayor’s seat. KPCW is profiling each candidate, starting with Roger Armstrong. KPCW’s Melissa Allison reports.

Roger Armstrong moved to Park City from California with his wife Beth  about 12 years ago. He works as an attorney in the entertainment industry while also serving as a member of the Summit County Council.

Armstrong is in the first year of his second term on council which has raised the question, “Why run for mayor when you were just elected for county council?”

Armstrong said, “It’s simple.”

“Number one I live here, this is my backyard," Armstrong said. "This place is special to me, it’s important to me. It’s one of the great, if not the greatest economic drivers in the county. I don’t know where it relates to Snyderville at this point, Snyderville Basin is growing rapidly but it’s still the primary economic driver and I’m looking to protect this place. I think it’s beautiful. We all came here for similar reasons involving the environment that we’re in, the recreation opportunities, just the general collegial nature of the community. That all becomes places at some risk or peril by growth factors that have come into play since the Olympics and those trigger issues like traffic and how many events do we have and do we have enough housing? They’re all outgrowths of growth.”

Armstrong said there were many who pushed him to run for the Mayor’s seat. As the deadline loomed closer, he felt compelled to run.

“As it became apparent who was going to file to run, the requests and demands and pushing to run got more pronounced," Armstrong said. "I started to look at the skill sets that were there and I thought that with my background, the approach that I have to solving problems, I just bring something very, very different than the other two candidates. I think if you look at each of us in isolation in terms of our skill sets, our backgrounds, our experience, there are three choices. And people may choose for very different reasons but in terms of being able to confront the very sophisticated problems that we have facing us and the players that are coming into the community that have very, very sophisticated representatives to get what they need, I think you need somebody with higher level skills.”

Though the mayor isn’t a voting member of council, Armstrong said the position is more than just a figurehead.

“They mayor is the sixth council member," Armstrong said. "He’s not a voting member, but he is the sixth council member and the mayor runs the meetings. So, part of the issue that I have with the city council is some of the issues that they’ve identified are easy issues to identify. You know, it’s easy to say, ‘We want to build 800 units of affordable housing.’ Affordable housing is a nice trigger, it’s a great aspirational goal. But as soon as you start having thtt conversation somebody better start asking questions about, ‘Where? For whom? What kinds of restrictions can we put on it? How does the funding apply to the restrictions that we can put on it? Are we prepared to add 2,000 at least?’ That’s just on a regular, how many bodies occupy a unit in any kind of housing.”

Each of the candidates are considered to be pretty liberal but Armstrong said there are policy issues that set him apart from the others, though – he did not detail what those were.

"I think the issues are probably consistent," Armstrong said. "Dana thinks that we should make for more free parking in the core. I’m concerned about what that does to traffic so we probably differ there in our analysis in terms of how to implement what is important. But again, I think it’s doing the real problem solving. I think it’s – what I do in my professional life and on the county council is to try and identify the problem with some degree specificity and once you do that, once you break this overall, ‘We’ve got a transportation problem,’ down to a core set of problems you can really start to address those and ultimately at the end of the day it’s, ‘How many cars can we take off the road?’”

As for affordable housing – Armstrong thinks the city is approaching the issue all wrong.

The county required each of the developers to first build the required housing for employees and affordable housing before they could move on to the other stages of their project, unlike the city who has purchased townhomes and is currently building others.

There’s more to consider according to Armstrong.

"It goes back to the fundamental issue of, ‘How much do we need and where do we have to locate it?’ Armstrong said. "This is a city that’s in the redevelopment phase of its life rather than the outward growth phase. There’s not a lot of land remaining so we’ve got to figure out, ‘What’s gonna come down or get converted to housing?’ And it’s a challenge, I think, to do it on an ad hoc basis where, ‘This condo development just came online and we might be able to pick it up for a price.’ And we start aggregating millions of dollars with not a lot to show for it.”

KPCW asked Armstrong why people should vote for him at the primary on August 15.

“I’ve got the experience to actually guide the city in a direction that will directly address the issues that we face," Armstrong said. "That will engage our citizens on a more active basis that will allow their voices to be heard and considered in the process. And I think at the end of the day that the skill sets that I bring are exactly what we need to address the issues that we face.”

Don’t forget to tune in Friday at 10 a.m. when KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher sits down with all three candidates.