Andy Beerman is doing just fine. Park City’s former mayor was limited to a single term after being defeated in a reelection bid by City Councilor Nann Worel in November 2021, but he left office with a legacy of preserved open space and sustainability and inclusivity efforts.
A longtime resident of this constantly evolving community, Beerman brought an ambitious vision and transformative platform to City Hall that fueled his rise to the Mayor’s office and ultimately complicated his reelection efforts.
I caught up with Beerman this summer to reflect, look forward and describe what it’s like trying to lead. He was surfing and practicing Spanish in Panama with his wife Thea, enjoying a well-deserved respite from the churn of local politics.
Beerman lived in Park City for quite a while prior to running for mayor.
“I moved to Park City in 1995 to take a job managing White Pine Touring. In 1998 I transitioned to Upper Main Street to manage the Treasure Mountain Inn, where I met my future wife and business partner, Thea Leonard. TMI was an antiquated property with a dysfunctional HOA, but we saw it as full of potential. Over the next few years, we acquired a large interest in the hotel and went to work renovating the property and restoring trust between the owners.
Looking back, it was my first foray into politics where I learned how to build consensus between disparate personalities. We spent the next 15 years growing the business and creating one of the first eco-friendly hotels in the West. In 2017, we sold the hotel side of the business so I could run for Mayor.”
Engaging with the community as a business owner and longtime resident led Beerman to pursue a leadership role.
“I was a longstanding board member and then president of the Historic Park City Alliance (HPCA) and a vocal open space advocate. I became a regular at City meetings and, after some encouragement, decided to run for City Council in 2010 and then mayor in 2017. My original platform focused on open space, walkability and protection of local business.
I felt the window to acquire and protect land was rapidly closing. My bucket list included Bonanza Flats, Quinn’s Junction, the rest of Round Valley and Treasure Hill. I’m thrilled we were able to secure most of these lands. Other major goals included promoting renewable energy, building a more walkable ‘car-optional’ town, and fostering sustainable tourism. I was excited we made progress on all of these areas before COVID hit and our focus shifted to health and safety.”
Covid upended momentum for the transformative vision Beerman campaigned on.
“Overwhelmingly, residents expressed a desire to take aggressive action to mitigate traffic, protect our sense of community, address climate change and to be more inclusive. Without a doubt, COVID shifted our priorities.
I also think the public appetite for ‘bold action’ is more idealistic than the actual appetite for change. As I liked to say, ‘everyone loves buses when other people are riding them.’ Changing behaviors is extremely difficult, especially once people become positional. I’d hoped that the COVID crisis would bring us closer as a community, but instead it widened our divides.”
Beerman sought a balance of preservation and growth to protect Park City’s identity while meeting the demands of a changing future.
“I am a proponent of slow, focused growth. Some change may be inevitable, but we don’t need to add accelerant. I prioritized land preservation because it’s the only silver bullet to stop sprawl. Many new residents don’t realize we prevented millions of square feet of development. I also pushed for Park City to establish a more sustainable pace with tourism, events and growth. Unfortunately, political will was weak and developers were relentless. Now it’s late to be proactive as everyone is entrenched and dependent upon our oversized economy. We’ve found ourselves in a place that pits residents against visitors and creates a lot of resentment.”
Beerman remains optimistic about Park City’s future.
“Take a step back and realize we live other people’s dreams. Tolerating a degree of tourism affords Parkites amazing amenities and a low tax rate. A healthy economy also gives us the tools to address many of our challenges, and we should stop viewing ourselves as victims. With some conviction, we could build consensus and determine realistic action. However, it will require a renewed trust in local institutions and individual willingness to adapt some behaviors and expectations.”