A pool of 11 applicants vied for the vacant seat on the Grantsville City Council created when City Councilman Tom Tripp was elected to the Tooele County Commission last November.
After about two hours of interviews and three votes by the four remaining City Councilmembers, Grantsville City Mayor Brent Marshall cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of Jeff Hutchins. The newly appointed Hutchins will serve until Dec. 31 and a full-term replacement for the seat vacated by Tripp will be elected this November.
Each of the applicants came before the City Council to deliver a two-minute introductory speech, then fielded up to two minutes of questions from each councilmember, minus Tripp. The applicants were asked about their vision for Grantsville’s future, the biggest challenges facing the city, their unique skills and abilities and how they would spur economic development.
Hutchins, a lifelong Grantsville resident, spoke about his professional experience as the Chief People Officer for tech company Finicity, where he is responsible for human resources for 340 employees in the United States and India. He also talked about his community ties, including as a football coach and co-chair of the Grantsville Sociable.
“I want Grantsville to remain a place where my children want to raise their families,” he said.
Hutchins — and nearly every candidate — identified growth and development as the biggest challenge in Grantsville’s future. He said there’s no way to completely prevent growth but the city can plan for it.
“We’re no longer a secret,” Hutchins said. “There are a lot of people who want to live here — I don’t blame them. But there are a lot of citizens that have been here a very long time that want to try to protect the things that make Grantsville great.”
Hutchins also said he’s concerned about the additional roads and sewer and water lines the city has inherited from all of the new development.
“I worry a little bit about are we prepared to maintain it,” he said. “So I think over the next 10 years, we’ve got to think hard about how do we do that. What will it take to maintain the infrastructure that’s here and that will be coming as we grow?”
Once all of the applicants were interviewed, they gave a final one-minute closing statement.
During his time, Hutchins pledged to run for the city council seat in the November election if appointed. He also said he spoke with city employees, attended City Council meetings and spoke with elected officials to prepare for the council seat.
“I will run for election,” he said. “I don’t think it’s good for the city to appoint someone and they’re not willing to run because there’s too much turnover on the council if that might happen.”
After interviewing the candidates, the City Council had praise for all of the applicants and their qualifications.
“I didn’t know most of the people and I’m thoroughly impressed with the choices that we have,” City Councilman Scott Stice said. “So I think anyone we pick I think will do a great job.”
Tripp, who commented the council works best when it features diversity, said he was impressed by the candidates after researching them.
“I think campaigning is a tough thing — this is no less tough, just briefer,” Tripp said, of the interview process.
While the City Council deliberated following the interview portion, City Councilwoman Krista Sparks said she was looking for someone who could jump right into the role.
“Having been here, that first year really is a learning curve,” Sparks said. “That first year I didn’t feel as effective as I did the second two because there are a lot of things to learn about how a city runs and what’s involved.”
In the initial vote of the 11 candidates, Hutchins received votes from Sparks and City Councilman Neil Critchlow. Stice voted for Matthew Bunkall, while City Councilwoman Jewel Allen voted for Derek Dalton. With the field cut to three candidates, another vote was held, with Allen and Stice voting for Dalton and Sparks and Critchlow voting for Hutchins.
A third vote was held, with the council split along the same lines. Marshall broke the tie in favor of Hutchins over Dalton, who ran for City Council in the last municipal election.
“The make up of the council is such that we need somebody who does have maybe a little more experience,” Marshall said.
Tripp has submitted his resignation for Sunday, Jan. 9 and Hutchins will be sworn in following Tripp’s resignation.