Helping others achieve their goals and solve their problems helped Debbie Winn achieve her goal to become Tooele City’s first woman mayor.
Winn defeated fellow city councilman Steve Pruden in Tuesday’s municipal election with 59.3 percent of the vote compared to Pruden’s 40.7 percent.
“Somebody sent me a message congratulating me and told me that I really didn’t run a campaign,” Winn said. “My continual involvement over the years helping others helped me win the election.”
The mayor-elect said her campaign signs succinctly delivered the message she wanted to convey to voters: “Elect Debbie Winn Tooele City Mayor — Not a politician, a public servant.”
Winn said she only contacted about 20 people to help put up campaign signs, but more than 200 people contacted her to help.
“I really feel good about myself when I’m helping other people,” she said. “I have supported other people, and they supported me.”
Winn has served on the city council for four and a half years. She was appointed to fill a vacant position on the council in Jan. 2013, and was then elected to a full term in Nov. 2013. A lifelong Tooele resident, Winn is the lead worker for the Tooele County Senior Center. She also served as executive director of the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism for seven years.
“I’ve been thinking about running for mayor for three or four years,” Winn said. “I knew there would be others — Dave [McCall] and Steve — wanting to run for mayor. A good friend of mine, who I know is close to God, encouraged me to run when she learned Mayor Dunlavy was not going to run. I figured if this were God’s plan, whatever happens happens and that is how it will be.”
When she began her service as a city councilwoman, Winn said she was surprised at how slow things happened.
“I have pushed for some things to be done quicker,” she said. “People have called me and told me they were getting nowhere with the city in regard to certain issues. I’ve relayed those messages to the mayor and he has been able to help out with those things.”
Winn said she will encourage residents to call her with their concerns about the city.
“Openness is always good. We could do more in that regard,” she said. “We had a controversy about recycling, and it took a while for that to come about. But we were working on the problem and needed to let the public know what we were doing about it.
“Transparency is extremely important when we have budget meetings,” she added. “We want people to attend those meetings with their concerns about the budget before it gets to draft. If people have concerns, they should tell me, email me or call me.”
Winn said the mayor and finance director put the budget together and it is reviewed by the council. “Any decision to raise taxes would be the city council’s decision,” she said.
Pruden said he was grateful for those who helped him with the election.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed with the outcome,” he said. “I will work with Debbie and we’ll do the best we can to help grow the city properly and collaborate as a team. There is no animosity of bitterness or anything like that. This requires a course redirection for me because I had planned on running for mayor for four years.”
He said the council has faith in Winn’s abilities.
“Some of us were there when she was put on the city council and had faith in her abilities then and that has not changed,” he said.
Pruden has two years left on his term as a city councilman.