Claudia McMullin set to retire from Summit County Council
Two-term County Council member prepares to step down at the end of the year
November 22, 2016
As Claudia McMullin sat alone at a table late Friday afternoon in Hugo Coffee with alternative music humming in the background, she concentrated on the tiny phone screen in her hands as her fingers deftly typed out a status update on Facebook.
McMullin's Hugo Coffee apron she wore provided the only indication that she was more than a patron in the Park City Chamber/Bureau's Visitor Information Center. McMullin, who opened the coffee shop in 2014, has spent more time in the shop lately concentrating on the business as her days on the County Council wind down.
McMullin said she chose not to seek reelection to a third-term because she believes in term limits and feels "a lot differently than I did eight years ago. "
"I'm just really looking forward to moving on to what is next for me," McMullin said. "I didn't come into this with an agenda. It was something I thought I would be good at it. I feel like I was good at it and I'm proud of the work that we did as a body for eight years. But I, personally, don't believe anyone should do more than two terms."
As one of the original County Council members when the county switched from a three-member commission to a five-member county council/county manager form of government, McMullin said it was actually a natural progression from the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission, of which she was a member for five years. However, she said the transition was not without its challenges.
The County Council inherited a budget that did not anticipate the effects of the downturn in the economy, resulting in depleted revenues and the county's first tax increase in more than two decades.
"Four out of the five of us had never done this before and when we started, it was not a mandate by any stretch," McMullin said. "Almost 50 percent of the people didn't want it and were looking for us to fail, but we didn't fail. I think we surpassed everyone's expectations.
"I am proud of the way we did handle the transition, especially with the hiring of Bob Jasper, Pat Putt, Julie Booth, Lisa Yoder and, most recently, Tom Fisher," she said. "These were all departments that didn't really exist and I am proud I fought for those positions to be created."
After successfully completing her first term on the council, McMullin earned another term in a tight race over Republican challenger Sue Pollard.
Over the years, McMullin became known for her purple-frosted hair, colorful glasses and boisterous personality.
Former County Council member Dave Ure said when he first met McMullin he simply thought of her as a "damn New York attorney." But, he said it didn't take long to realize her passion for issues.
Ure, the only Republican and East Side resident on the council at the time, often debated with McMullin over the issues.
"Neither Claudia nor I were shy about expressing our opinions," Ure said with a laugh. "Many times we agreed to disagree, but we both knew that we were arguing from our hearts not just our mouths or our politics.
"I really, really enjoyed being around her," he said. "We sparred with each other, but when it came down to issues we both firmly believed, we were always receptive to the other's new ideas."
During her eight years on the County Council, McMullin championed economic development and diversity, open space and transportation improvements. As an example, the County Council settled a lawsuit over the Stone Ridge development proposed for Round Valley and, instead, purchased the land for open space.
One of her fondest memories as a councilor was when same-sex marriage was legalized in Utah. McMullin, who was the council chair at the time, said she went to the grocery store at around 7 a.m. that morning to purchase nearly three dozen roses.
"I gave them out at the Clerk's Office to all of the couples and it was so much fun. It was the most touching day," McMullin said.
But not all days were like that, she added. Losing staff or being faced with difficult, lightning-rod decisions weighed heavily on her.
"You know you are really upsetting a lot of people, but, for whatever reason, you feel you have to," McMullin said. "Those were really difficult, like the decision on the motocross track."
McMullin boasted about the overwhelming passage of the transportation initiatives, adding "that's huge, that's so huge it passed," and emphasized the overall health of the county's finances.
County Council member Kim Carson, who knew McMullin through mutual friends prior to their time serving together, said she appreciated the background that she brought as an attorney and as a business owner.
"I think she really has been a champion for everything and, sometimes, it would surprise me when she would be really passionate about something. But, then, it wouldn't surprise me. She made things fun and interesting," Carson said. "She was interested in everything and there were times her emotions actually surprised me. She's passionate and emotional, which always kept us on our toes."
As McMullin prepares to step away from public service, she said he has no regrets.
"I had a great time. I'm proud of what I did and I am happy it is over," McMullin said. "It was my honor to serve this community and I thank every single person who ever voted for me because it was a complete honor to serve you."