Park City Council Member Andy Beerman is giving the mayor’s seat another shot – because he says he’s passionate about Park City. KPCW’s Melissa Allison has more.
With a couple of thousand dollars in his pocket, Council Member Andy Beerman drove his VW to Park City in 1995 and hasn’t left.
Having met his wife while working at the Treasure Mountain Inn, Beerman said he hasn’t looked back.
"I think I’ve sort of come up and grown up through Park City," Beerman said. "I’ve been active in a lot of things in the community - I’ve run a restaurant, a hotel, a retail store. I’m a business owner, I’m a property owner and I feel like, in particular in the last ten years, been very active in community issues. First as an activist for environmental and small business causes and the last six years on city council.”
Beerman is halfway through his second term as a member of the Park City council but believes he can serve the community even better as mayor.
"The mayor plays a pivotal role in that they set the tone, they set the agenda and ideally the mayor is a coalition builder on the council," Beerman said. "They work to build alignment between the council, the community and city staff. And that’s a role that I think is a natural fit for me and it’s a particularly exciting time right now. I’d say of the six years that I’ve been on council, I would say the last two years we’ve gained a lot of momentum. We have great alignment right now with the community after years of doing engagement and studies - we’re finally kind of done talking about a lot of this stuff and finally taking action.”
Beerman explained why he changed the theme of his last campaign, “People, Planet, Profit” to “People, Planet, Park City.”
“It’s ‘People, Planet, Park City,’ it’s still in the background," Beerman said. "The profit element, four years ago we were coming out of the recession and there was a lot of talk about, 'How do we build a more resilient economy here?' And it’s always a reality whether it’s in city government or overall in the community, you have to have a healthy economy to do many of the great things we do."
"Right now though I think things have flipped," Beerman said. "We’ve become a little bit of a victim of our own success. Twenty years of booming economy and growth is really starting to overwhelm our community so I think the focus needs to be squarely on our community so I’ve dropped that as an element of my campaign. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t still need to be monitored – we still need to be fiscally responsible at the city and we still need to make sure that the city still has a healthy economy.”
When it comes to special events, he said the city is stuck between a rock and hard place.
"We created a citizens event committee to look at all these events and to give council some feedback and what we’ve gotten from them is they’re very split," Beerman said. "Many of the citizens want the events because we each have our favorites. You may not want Tour of Utah but I may love it, for example. Each person has a different event they love and then I think 85 percent of our events are fundraisers for our nonprofits in town and we all love and support our nonprofits. So if we pull away their main fundraisers its problematic. So, it’s not a simple thing to address. I think we’re getting very aggressive right now in the mitigation of those events, particularly the one on the downtown. We’re trying to figure how we can get the traffic out of the neighborhoods, further restrict things and address the big elements of it. Ultimately, I do think we will have to scale back and certainly say, ‘no’ to events, maybe even remove a few.”
In addition to transportation, affordable housing is a critical priority for the city. As a result, some have questioned the city’s decision to get into the real estate and development business.
“Yes and no," Beerman said. "I think the city has changed our posture and we’ve got more aggressive in terms of directly taking on some of our community needs. The free market is just out of control here and there is no way anybody that is middle-class or working-class can move to Park City and live in Park City. So we’re seeing, all of our essential service workers, our teachers, our police, our nonprofit heads, our business managers, they can’t live here anymore. So the city has stepped in and taken a more aggressive role with our housing program and we really view that as community building. Otherwise we’re just an aging community that’s switching over to entirely second homes which at the end of the day is not going to be complete or authentic so we felt like we had to step in.”
We asked Beerman if the city is trying to run a municipality or acting as an independent business.
"I don’t think we’re trying to directly compete with our businesses," Beerman said. "I think sometimes that happens. I've seen that actually as a, there are points in my past where I've, as a business owner, had conflicts with the city on that - so it’s something I’m sensitive about. The Imperial Inn was an example, I was trying to purchase that then I remember when the city bought it out from under us and we were disappointed. And the city had a very specific purpose at the time and reason why they did it. So, I guess the long and short is that we need to be sensitive not to step on the free market too much.”
As for why residents should vote for him, Beerman had this to say.
"As I’ve said before, I’m deeply rooted and embedded in this community – have been incredibly active for over a decade," Beerman said. "I am prepared for the job, I’ve spent six years on hand through thousands of hours of meetings. I know all the players, I’ve proven effective in the role and I have the support of the council. So I think I’m ready to hit it day one and if you do feel some urgency that we need to address our critical priorities in this community and protect our small town, I think I’m the best person for that job.”