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Summit County

Democratic Summit County councilor seeks 5th term

2021 - County Council Chris Web-11.jpg
Photo by Bailey Edelstein
Courtesy of Summit County
Summit County Council Chair Chris Robinson is running for reelection.

Summit County Councilor Chris Robinson is seeking a fifth term on the council. He says the council is making progress on "intractable" issues facing the county even if, in the short term, some of the problems seem to be multiplying.

Chris Robinson was first elected to the Summit County Council in 2008. Since then, Robinson said the council has made progress on what he called “intractable” challenges: managing growth, dealing with a changing climate and addressing traffic congestion and transit.

“I have extensive experience — I guess, some would argue that it's bad experience, but I don't believe so — … and a way of conducting myself that's, I think, conducive to problem-solving in the long run," Robinson said. "In the short run, it seems like some of these problems don't go away, that they're multiplying. But in the long trajectory, I think that they do solve. And we're engaged in doing that and I’m an integral part of that.”

Robinson, 59, said he’s a fifth-generation Utahn. He studied accounting at the University of Utah and moved to Old Ranch Road 24 years ago with his family. He’s a Democrat but described his politics as “middle of the road,” saying he’s also voted for Republicans.

He, along with other members of his family, own 350,000 acres in Utah and surrounding states on which they run cattle ranches and farming enterprises. He is on many boards and is the president of two water companies. Robinson is also a real estate developer, though he says not in Summit County.

When the proposal to build 1,100 homes at the Tech Center site at Kimball Junction first came before the county, Robinson recused himself from the proceedings. He told the council at the time he’d accepted Utah Jazz tickets from the developers 8 months previously and apologized for what he said was a mistake.

At the request of the other councilors, he later rejoined deliberations and apparently had a central role as they went forward.

Robinson denies that his vocation as a developer and his friendships with developers make him development-friendly. He said he doesn't think building more housing in Summit County is the answer to affordability issues. He said the demand to live here means homes will be expensive unless they’re deed-restricted affordable housing.

“I mean who doesn't want to live in Park City? Or in greater Summit County, Snyderville Basin — who doesn't?" he said. "I mean, it's a very attractive, for a lot of obvious reasons, place to live. And so, you just had more density, there's an insatiable demand for that density.”

Robinson said he generally tries to find solutions to problems that work for both parties. As examples of previous successes, he pointed to his work negotiating land purchases for the county, working to settle a decadeslong dispute between Snyderville Basin water suppliers and helping to create the High Valley Transit District.

Despite his extensive land holdings, Robinson said he seeks a balance between private property rights and community interests. He has at times been the lone councilor advocating for property owners’ rights, including in recent debates about accessory dwelling units and lawn watering regulations.

Robinson said the county handled COVID-related restrictions generally well. By imposing strict measures early, he said the county was able to loosen them earlier than might otherwise have been possible.

Voters will decide between Robinson and Republican challenger Holly McClure Nov. 8.