GUNNISON—Mike Wanner was sworn in as Gunnison’s newest city councilman last Wednesday to replace Justen Mellor, who resigned for health reasons.
Wanner says he considers Mellor a friend and has recently worked with him on several city projects.
“I really like the current city council members, and I think I can add something to that,” Wanner says. “I hope I can fill Justen’s shoes and continue the great work he had going.”
Wanner and Mellor co-founded United We March, which for three years has held commemoration events and raised money for veterans. They have also worked together on the Gunnison Trails Committee and tried to make a recreation area out of land surrounding the G-Hill.
“I’ve been involved in some of the things going on lately,” Wanner says, “and I’ve just kind of been a person that believes in service.”
When someone suggested that he should step forward to fill the vacancy in the council, he says he “decided that now is a good time because I like the direction that Gunnison is going.”
Wanner was raised in Centerfield. He attended Gunnison Valley High School and Snow College before getting a bachelor’s degree in radiologic science. He now works as a radiology technician at Gunnison Valley Hospital, working with X-ray, MRI and CT-scan technology. He also works as a general-construction contractor “on the side.”
He is married to Mekesha Wanner, and his children are Tenley, Presley and Swayzie.
Along with his involvement in service and development organizations in town, Councilman Wanner is the secretary of the Gunnison First Ward Elders Quorum.
Because of the interim nature of his current term, Wanner would have to run for election in November, which he says he will do.
“It’s a short vacancy, so I have to put my hat in the ring again,” he says. “I will be running again.”
As a councilman with a background in housing development, he hopes to address the shortage in places to live in the area without losing focus of the intimate, community-minded nature of the city.
He says he would like to address the imbalance in available jobs with the lack of housing in the area. While he described himself as “forward thinking,” he says he does not necessarily want to open the door to a population boom like what St. George and other growing Utah cities have experienced recently.
“I think there are ways that we can be more inviting and the current city council is making moves to make it a place people want to visit and that people want to move to,” he says. “Without becoming too large, or ‘city-ified.’ I think there’s ways to do it.”
Though he has already been working with the city, as a sworn-in council member, he has officially begun his interim term and will participate in full capacity as a council member for the remainder of this term that ends at the end of the year.
“I’m excited to get my feet wet in there,” he says. “I think it’s going to be a good time; and I really like the current city council members.” He says when faced with decisions to make, “I hope that I can remember what the citizens that communicate with me, what they would want.”
Gunnison City Council will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at Gunnison City Hall.