HOW DID I GET HERE?
Ever find yourself wondering ‘how did I get here?’ Twenty-seven years ago I moved here in an old VW van with barely enough cash for rent. I spent my first morning, a soggy April one, mingling with locals at the Morning Ray. It felt like I had found my home.
I was born in 1969–the summer of Woodstock–and raised in a quiet suburb of Columbus, Ohio. My heritage is German/Swiss/English with a Mennonite influence. My father managed a computer center and my mother was a prolific community volunteer. Rapid growth-spurts put me a head taller than the other kids, which likely defined me as an early leader among peers.
I attended college at Miami University in Oxford Ohio and spent my summers in Alaska working for the National Outdoor Leadership School. Upon graduation I moved West to became one of the youngest instructors for NOLS—guiding, teaching leadership and minimal impact living skills.
In 1991 I arrived in Utah looking for work that didn’t require carrying all my possessions on my back. I was drawn to small business management, which was a lot like guiding: both require organizational skills, a can-do attitude, and the ability to lead and inspire. Before long, I was recruited to help run White Pine Touring. A few years later I took another job on Main Street, managing a struggling hotel called Treasure Mountain Inn. This role did come with a complication: I had a crush on the boss’s daughter, Thea Leonard. A few years later, Thea and I were married, and formed a new partnership in life and in the hotel business.
Re-imagining Treasure Mountain Inn took collaboration and innovation. The first challenge was resolving decades of in-fighting among the condo owners. As the HOA chairman, I focused on building consensus, which eventually led to peace. It was my first taste of politics as an endurance sport. Innovation at the hotel was also critical because we had no capital. We were early adopters of Internet marketing, niche clientele, and eco-friendly business practices—all advantages that created a thriving business. During our tenure, Treasure Mountain Inn had a series of notable firsts: first to recycle, first hotel website, first eco-hotel in Utah, and one of the first US hotels to use 100% renewable energy (2008). We sold our hotel business in 2017 so I could focus on serving as Mayor.
Once I realized the health of our business is tied to the health of our community, it was a natural progression to serve as the President of the downtown business alliance (HPCA). I advocated for local business and again focused on consensus building and setting a firm course. For several years I was a regular at City meetings, and as the saying goes, “we are led by those that show up.” My participation led to recruitment, and eventual election to City Council in 2011.
I served one and a half terms (6yrs) on the Park City Council before being elected as Mayor in 2017. On Council, I was a strong advocate for purchasing open space, renewable energy, protecting our small and local businesses, addressing traffic/congestion, building an inclusive and complete community, and affordable housing. During that time I served on multiple boards and committees both locally and regionally including two statewide committees (Utah League of Cities and Towns Board, Central Wasatch Commission) and one Federal Board (EPA Local Government Advisory Board).
Should I be re-elected as Mayor, I plan to focus on implementing the Vision 2020 and building a community that better matches our ideals.
A few specifics: