Summit County Council member says four years is enough
Ryan Summerlin December 19, 2012
After four years serving the county, Summit County Councilmember John Hanrahan is going back to his roots.
Hanrahan, a family physician, co-founded the People’s Health Clinic 20 years ago.
In 2000, he left the clinic to start the Hope Alliance, which does international humanitarian projects.
"But it was just too time consuming, so I started doing medical review work, and I stayed involved at the People’s Health Clinic as a volunteer," he said.
When the form of county government changed and the County Council position became part-time, Hanrahan decided to run for County Council.
"I thought it would be a good way to be useful that wasn’t full time," he said. "The first year was pretty busy as the County Council Chair. And the second year was busy, too. But it’s better now."
Hanrahan added that not only did County Council seem like a good avenue to fill his need to serve, but it would also keep him in town instead of traveling around the world.
"I just have this internal issue that makes me want to be useful in the community. I was doing this review work which was great professionally, but it wasn’t filling that need," he said.
Looking back at his time as a councilmember, Hanrahan said he is particularly proud of having blocked the Military Installation Development Authority (MIDA) from developing a project in the Snyderville Basin.
"It’s a state appointed body that can take land and create an economic development area to provide hotel rooms for the military," he said. "But in order to subsidize the rooms, they needed over one million square feet of commercial development. And it was just not a good thing, and we didn’t need it here because we already had so much empty commercial space."
The county also had multiple other options for rooms for the military, he added.
"A lot of people started getting involved at the grass-roots level, making their voices heard to the state Legislature, and they ultimately pulled the project," he said.
Hanrahan also takes pride in the decision by the County Council to hire a county manager.
"I can’t imagine how the prior commissions were able to stay on top of everything in the county and keep it running smoothly without professional management," he said. "We got a really good person with Bob Jasper, the process was well done and I think it was a good move for the county."
On the other hand, issues such as the film studio moving into Quinn’s Junction were much more difficult, he said.
"I felt like we were in a no-win situation," he said. "None of the options were very palatable. In general, there are so many issues that have been smoldering for 10, 15, 20 years that just crop up and you have to deal with them the best you can."
Hanrahan acknowledged that while it creates difficult decisions for the County Council, having so many people want to live and move their businesses into the county is "a good thing."
Regardless, some issues were more difficult than he imagined, such as the onslaught of criticism as a public figurehead.
"I just don’t have a thick enough skin. You can’t take things personally in politics. I take too much personally, I think," he said.
Hanrahan said a lot of people are really good at taking the criticism and he can see how they are good at politics.
"And I’m not," he laughed. "There’s a lot of conflict in politics that I just don’t want in my life and don’t need in my life."
Once his term is over, Hanrahan said he plans to spend more time back in the medical and humanitarian fields.