County Council candidate Harte highlights regional planning, affordability and open space as top priorities

This article is part of an ongoing series at TownLift covering all candidates of the upcoming 2022 local election.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — Canice Harte is a long-time local and one of the candidates running for Summit County Council in this year’s election. TownLift had the chance to speak with him regarding his platform and goals to help serve the county as a council member.

Harte has lived in Park City for over 16 years with his wife, Katy Wang, who is Park City Film’s executive director. “After we moved here, there was a key moment when I looked at Katie, and I already knew I wanted to stay, and she agreed,” said Harte, continuing that when they made the decision to stay in Park City permanently, they had professional opportunities that could have relocated them to locations across Europe and Asia. Harte and Wang preferred Park City life to any of those options and have lived in the area ever since.

One of the first things Harte told TownLift that he loves about Summit County is the opportunities to get involved in the community. “If you want to volunteer and be part of the community here, they will accept you with open arms. You have to be careful, though, because you’ll be made chair of a committee before you know it!”

Not long after settling in Summit County permanently, Harte became a member of the county planning commission. Harte spent three terms and seven years total on the planning committee, where he helped undertake some of the biggest planning projects the county has worked on recently. Harte described his time on the committee, saying, “you really dive into what a planning commission does, and you really are affecting your community and what it looks like while helping shape it as a whole.”

Harte continued, saying, “county council then became sort of the obvious next place to be to help and participate” in how the county operates. “With Glenn Wright stepping down this year, this was the natural time and opportunity to run for county council.”

When asked about the primary elements of his platform, Harte described it as focusing on “regional planning, affordability, and space.”

In reference to his three-columned platform, Harte said the following:

“I go around and knock on doors to canvass and introduce myself to people, and I think I would say that if not 100% it’s close 99.9% of the people I speak to are really concerned about overdevelopment and change in the community. And that is what keeps me up at night. Park City and the West Side lives and functions really as a town of about 35,000 people. If you could flip a switch and build every planned development instantly it would support a population of close to 100,000 people. That’s already on the books and nobody wants to live in a community of 100,000 people. So how can we scale that back?”

Harte is also passionate about getting citizens directly involved with Summit County decisions.

“I want to get citizens’ input on how they want to see the community develop, change, and grow. It will grow and change, but if everybody can have a voice at the table and help shape or craft what that plan for growth looks like, then at least we’ll all know if we’re moving in the right direction or not.”

For Harte’s plans to foster affordability in Summit County, he spoke with Sheriff Justin Martinez about the salaries of Summit County’s local law enforcement. Using that as a yardstick, Harte plans on promoting development that will allow for Summit County essential workers like law enforcement to be able to live comfortably in the area. “We have to be smart about the affordable housing we build.”

Regarding preserving Summit County’s open space, Harte said:

“We do need to find areas that we can protect. There is a decent amount of open space already protected because of slope angels, but we also have a lot of wetlands. We have the Weaver river and other areas that are sensitive that we have to protect for water quality and the water table, so I would say that arguably as much open space as we can protect we should. Last election, 80% of Summit County’s voters voted to support an open space bond, which is a tax increase to all of us. 80% of voters chose to vote voluntarily for a tax increase, which is politically very rare. It goes to show how much Summit County cares about open space.”

Harte also spoke about his experience as a veteran of the Marine Corps and a local father of two daughters in Summit County public schools. “I’ve decided that whatever I do, any amount of spare time I have on this earth will be in the service of others.”

Harte is running against Republican John “Jack” Murphy and Libertarian Michael J. Franchek. The deadline to register and receive a vote by mail ballot is October 28 and postmarked by Monday, November 7. If deposited in a drop box, it needs to be deposited in an official drop box by 8 p.m. on November 8. If voting in person, residents can visit the following voting locations.

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