Business entrepreneur eyes multisector collaboration if elected to Coalville City Council
Shaun Powis is not a politician by nature. He says not all answers can be found in government as other community groups likely have solutions, too
Shaun Powis and his wife started spending their weekends in Coalville around seven years ago when restoration work on his in-law’s historic house turned into “a full-time job and a labor of love.”
Drawn in by the rural lifestyle, quaint businesses such as the Summit Mercantile, and a welcoming community, the couple decided to make it their permanent home in 2020.
“We thought, ‘Hey, we could really go for living in a small town.’ So that’s how it happened,” Powis said.
With a few years as an 84017 resident under his belt, Powis is looking to use his experience as a business entrepreneur to make a difference in town. He launched a bid for one of three open seats on the Coalville City Council, with a primary election on Sept. 5 to narrow the candidate field.
Powis was born in Utah. He spent much of his career in southeastern Wyoming, with the couple raising their family in Cheyenne. He started in the hospitality industry before branching into recruiting as well as hotel and restaurant management with a focus on employee training and customer service. Later in his career, Powis transferred his skills to the oil and gas field when he went to work for a refining company.
The last 11 years of his career have been focused on leadership development and business acumen. Powis has authored several business course curriculums over the last decade including e-learning and in-person trainings.
He’s also been an active volunteer, having served on two Wyoming governor’s task forces as well as other education and lodging boards.
Powis decided to run for Coalville City Council after encouragement from friends and other residents, although he said he’s not a politician by nature. One of the top concerns he’s heard is from community members who don’t feel like their representatives are listening to them.
“I feel like the community feels like they need to be heard more. For example, if you go to a meeting and you have something to say and you want community involvement, I think that the Council might do a better job with that. That seems to be the prevailing message that I get,” Powis said. “They feel like that, in some instances, the government tries to run the community instead of the community members.”
Powis, if elected, said he wants to help the community realize the municipal government doesn’t have all of the answers. Instead, the solutions lie in the citizenry and with local businesses and organizations. The local government should act as a facilitator to “grease the wheels to help that,” he explained.
By inviting residents to share their vision of the community, Powis said the Coalville City Council can find ways to support what their constituents want. This includes recreation opportunities and managing growth as the rural migration continues.
Powis anticipates more people will be moving to rural places like Coalville, which has led to a push toward building. The candidate said this “has to happen,” but he added it can be managed well by receiving input from residents. The feedback, in turn, could help officials balance sensitive topics such as development and maintaining the unique character of the community.
Commerce is also a priority for the business entrepreneur.
Powis said his experience with Cheyenne Leads, an economic development agency that encourages business growth, will be an asset as officials look for better ways to support small businesses. This could help bring more revenue to Coalville as residents and visitors will shop locally instead of driving to Heber City.
“It’s likely more complicated than any one person can figure out so I think we need to get all the people in the community talking about it,” Powis said. “We don’t have to make rash decisions. We can make them carefully and logically and really study them out and get various opinions.”
The other candidates running for a council seat are Brandon Brady, Stefanie Bowen, Lynn Wood, Tyler Rowser, Cindy Padgett, and David Anderson. Councilman Phil Geary has withdrawn his candidacy. Incumbent Don Winters is not seeking reelection.
One candidate will be eliminated in the Sept. 5 primary. The top vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 21 general election with the three winners starting a four-year term in January. The election is nonpartisan.
For more information about the 2023 municipal election, visit summitcounty.org/Clerk.
Matthew Christopher Hogel, of Heber City, and Mark Vincent Devine, of Arizona, are scheduled to be sentenced next month in separate kidnapping cases.
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