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Parkite and High School Basketball Coach Thomas Purcell Seeks City Council Seat

Thomas Purcell

Park City High School basketball coach Thomas Purcell filed official election paperwork late last week to join the race for city council.


Thomas Purcell has been a Park City local for 12 years now and said his decision to run for office did not come down to one specific moment, but rather a collection of experiences as a local coach, educator, and citizen of Park City.


He added he wants to see the council focus more on today’s problems, like traffic and crowding, instead of long-term projects.


“I think I have a unique perspective as someone who’s been in private schools, been in public schools, seen how they operate,” said Purcell. “I’ve kind of seen the, literally the on-the-ground interaction between the government and how it affects you. For Park City, I had always seen the city council and looked at the things that they had done, and it always seemed like they had a grand plan for 20 years down the road, 30 years down the road, not to be selfish or short-sighted, but, to me, well, what about today? You know? What are they going to do today to help us? What’s the cost in the future for all of these things that we’re planning?”  


In addition to his coaching duties at Park City High School, Purcell also has financial experience with the Park City Partners private equity firm.


He said in a crowded field and only two council seats up for grabs, he wants to see a more fiscally responsible direction taken at city hall where 10-year aspirations take a back seat to the city’s more immediate needs.


“I want to differentiate myself, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily ‘fiscally conservative,’ I would say it’s more ‘what problems can we solve today as opposed to 10 years from now?’’ Purcell said. “You don’t know what 10 years from now holds. I just think the city council needs to prepare, kind of on a what’s important now, day-to-day basis. I think that may differentiate myself.”  


If he wins a first term, he said he would want to be known as someone who isn’t afraid to put the brakes on what he sees as runaway spending at city hall. In his opinion, local politicians are too eager to make their mark on the community as opposed to taking a more measured approach to local government.


“I want to be in the room when some of these decisions are made,” he said. “I think I have a strong enough character and experience to have the ability to say no. I think sometimes people get on boards or get appointed to different positions, they really, really want to make their mark, ok? They really want to do something. They want to say, ‘I did that,’ or ‘I did this.’ Sometimes, the best answer for a civic leader might be the ability to say no, and I don’t see that thinking coming from city hall right now, I just see that every time they get a dollar, they spend a dollar.”


Purcell is joined in the race for city council by seven other candidates, including incumbent Councilor Tim Henney, Tana Toly, Jeremy Rubell, Daniel Lewis, Michael Franchek, John Greenfield, and Jamison Brandi.


A primary will be held in August in order to reduce the field to four ahead of November’s election.

Sean Higgins covers all things Park City and is the Saturday Weekend Edition host at KPCW. Sean spent the first five years of his journalism career covering World Cup skiing for Ski Racing Media here in Utah and served as Senior Editor until January 2020. As Senior Editor, he managed the day-to-day news section of skiracing.com, as well as produced and hosted Ski Racing’s weekly podcast. During his tenure with Ski Racing Media, he was also a field reporter for NBC Sports, covering events in Europe.