Next week, for the first time in more than a decade, Summit County Council member Sally Elliott will shed the heavy mantle of elected office and return to the role of regular citizen.
Elliott served on the Park City Council before winning a seat on the former Summit County Commission and, after a four-year stint on that board, spent another four years helping to establish the county's new council/manager form of government.
Before and during all three terms of office, Elliott also served on countless advisory boards, earning a reputation as a tireless champion for a variety of causes including trails, recycling and historic preservation. She was among the founders of the Park City Rail Trail and has repeatedly brought stakeholders together to expand the county's network of hiking and biking trails.
Elliott arrived in 1986 and in that time she has made an indelible mark on the community. Even though she is retiring from public office, it is likely that state and local lawmakers will continue to seek her advice for many years to come.
Though not as tenured as Elliott in local politics, County Council member John Hanrahan is also finishing his term. He brought a thoughtful approach to the council, even when the issues became heated. In fact, his lack of political experience gave him a fresh perspective, unaffected by the county's sometimes entrenched cultural divisions.
Unfortunately, Hanrahan and his co-councilors inherited a shrinking economy and had to make many difficult decisions to balance the budget. They were also handicapped by a lack of financial oversight under the previous form of government and took criticism for debts incurred by other elected officials. Nevertheless, Hanrahan and the council refused to compromise the county's progress on issues like open-space preservation, affordable housing and sustainability, and still managed to bring the budget back into the black.
Incoming council members Kim Carson and Roger Armstrong have their work cut out for them. Growth, development and maintaining a healthy economy will continue to present new challenges. But thanks to Elliott and Hanrahan, they have two excellent role models to follow.