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Why I voted for Canice Harte for Summit County Council

So, I voted for Canice Harte for Summit County Council. I’m happy with my choice and thankful that I have one. Yet, this isn’t the typical endorsement you’d find in the Park Record.

I don’t personally know Canice Harte. He didn’t coach my kid’s baseball team to some championship. I don’t know if he will somehow cure the corona-virus. I didn’t get a request from the Democratic Party to write a Letter to the Editor in support of Canice. I am pretty sure he won’t find a way to educate Parkites on the proper way to drive through the Jeremy Ranch roundabouts — although I wish he could.

Yet, I still voted for him.

There are two reasons.

The first is the most important. As long-time readers know, I attend many County Council meetings. One day, two Snyderville Basin Planning Commissioners showed up to the County County meeting. They were concerned about the County’s approach to affordable housing at Silver Creek Village — that’s the 1200 unit development being built by Home Depot.

About 300 units are designated as affordable units. The County Council wanted to accelerate the affordable housing efforts and build most of those units in one section of the development at the beginning of the project. They wanted to build them at the beginning of the development, so they could get them done fast, and not put them alongside the other condos and townhouses.

One of the Planning Commissioners in attendance told the council “NO. That’s not right.” He articulated that good affordable housing development mixes affordable housing with market-rate houses. He said that’s how you make sure the community can function well. That way you don’t have the affordable houses all in one section and the wealthy in another.

It frankly makes sense.

Who was that? Canice Harte. He stood up to the County Council. He answered their questions. He provided personal experience. He withstood their criticism… even though he was in an appointed position and could not be invited back.

His willingness to stand up to the County Council was impressive on an issue that matters.

The second reason I voted for Canice is his take on the Boyer Tech Park. As many of you know, a developer wants to build a hotel and apartments on the area located under the Utah Olympic Park. Currently, it is “zoned” for a Technology Park. The idea, forged a decade ago, was trying to get higher-paying jobs to Park City. We wanted to increase the number of STEM jobs around Park City. Therefore, we wouldn’t be as reliant on tourism.

Now, a developer called Dakota Pacific is asking to change the rules. They want to build a hotel, retail businesses, and apartments on the land. This is currently in front of the Planning Commission — which both Canice Harte and Malena Stevens (his competitor) are a member of. The Planning Commission gets to forward a recommendation to the County Council on whether the hotel, retail, and apartments make sense.

My personal opinion is that we need to give the Tech Park a chance, and I don’t believe Boyer did a good job of marketing it. Things have changed because of the corona-virus. Companies want to move out of San Francisco and LA because they are too dense. Why not here? And while we wait, we have defacto open space. Waiting for high paying jobs gives us both open space in the short term and higher-paying jobs in the long-term.

So, in the Park Record’s article on the candidates’ debate they say, “Harte, though, implied that the project didn’t do enough to warrant its approval, saying that his opponent might think otherwise.”

Harte says, “For me, this is simply, we don’t have to do this. Someone’s going to have to show us a really good reason why we want to have a project if we were inclined to do so. They’re proposing 308 affordable housing units — 100 of those are between 40% and 60% of the (area median income) and that will … generate that much need just in the hotel project alone. So it’s not a net gain for the community. If anything it’s just going to break even.”

It sounds to me like he has a high bar for these changes. If we are going to give up the dream of higher-paying jobs here, we better not just give it away. To me, his position is good.

My view is that Canice Harte would provide a critical thinker who isn’t afraid to stand up for what he thinks. I’m sure we are not 100% aligned on every issue; however, I buy his character.

I don’t encourage you to vote for Canice Harte. You have to make up your own mind on the issues. However, I am voting for Canice and would ask you to critically think about this decision. It’s an important one. This decision will impact what you see around the County for the next decade.

I believe Canice will make incremental decisions that make our little corner of the world better. That’s why I voted for him.


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