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Park City Council Candidates Address Pressing Local Issues at Rotary Candidate Forum

Renai Bodley Miller

Three candidates for city council in Park City participated in a wide-ranging candidate forum on Tuesday.


Park City Council candidates Tim Henney, Tana Toly, and Jeremy Rubell joined the Park City Rotary Club for an hour-long candidate forum Tuesday afternoon. The fourth candidate in the race, Thomas Purcell, could not attend.


Candidates answered both curated and audience questions on topics ranging from affordable housing and transportation to what it means to be a community leader.


The candidates agreed on challenges like the need for creative solutions to Park City’s affordable housing shortage, including using a mix of new development and incentivizing existing ones to offer long-term rentals at an attainable price.


Differences between the candidates arose elsewhere, notably with how the city handled the controversial painting of a “Black Lives Matter” mural on Main Street during Fourth of July 2020. While Henney said the city followed an appropriate process in hiring a painter and putting the murals on Main Street, Toly said as a business owner she was caught off guard and the process and project could have been handled better. And Rubell said he believed it’s not the government's role to oversee the messaging of social issues.


Toly owns Red Banjo Pizza on Main Street and said she wants to see more community engagement with local government. She said leveraging more local expertise can help counselors make better informed decisions. 


“We are some of the smartest, most intelligent, innovative people I’ve ever met in this community, and I think that we don’t do a good job of bringing that into our city hall discussions,” Toly said. “There are probably solutions out there amongst all of you that would help us to figure out what we should do, but we don’t seem to have an open forum for people to come and say, ‘hey, this is my expertise and this is what I want to share with you.’ Whether that’s the people that feel that they are not going to be heard, or whether that’s people feeling embarrassed, but I feel like there needs to be -- we need to go out there and say, ‘hey, we want to hear from you, and we want you to be a part of this.’”


Toly’s other proposals included using some of the money budgeted for city projects like the Arts and Culture District in already developed business centers like Prospector Square.


Tim Henney is seeking a third term on the council and said being a counselor takes having thick skin, and a willingness to make hard decisions.


“When you make a vote, when you make a decision, you have to understand you cannot, inherently, by definition, please everyone, and it takes courage to make those votes,” he said. “It takes courage to face your friends, to hear criticism, to get feedback from people that you respect that’s often critical. Sometimes it’s personal. It does take courage to do that, and if you’re not the type of person that knows that you are going to be making decisions that will be upsetting some people, and that’s going to be a problem for you, you probably shouldn’t be on city council because, guess what? There are a lot of decisions, they’re not getting any easier, the issues are very complex, and we have very diverse opinions across a broad spectrum in this community.”


Among Henney’s comments, he highlighted his work on the city’s affordable housing roadmap and acknowledged the city made a big step forward in community engagement by offering a way for the public to participate virtually. He said he does not want that option to go away.


Jeremy Rubell lives in Thaynes Canyon and works as a consultant in the technology and business arena. He said his professional background gives him unique experience managing relationships and expectations, which he hopes to bring to the council. 


“I think it’s more than representing the folks who elected you,” said Rubell. “I think the job, if elected, is to represent the entire community, and that is a tough job. As Tim said, there are gonna be people who are upset about what you do no matter what the choices are that are made, and that’s a skill that’s learned through experience.”


Rubell also highlighted his desire to focus on bike and pedestrian safety as a way to incentivize people to utilize public transit more.  


A complete recording of the candidate forum can be found here.


Park City’s 2021 Municipal Election will be held on November 2nd. The election will be entirely by mail. Ballots will be mailed on or before October 12th. More information can be found here.

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.
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