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Mayor Dolan ready to move on after 24 years as Sandy mayor

Jan 01, 2018 04:20PM ● Published by Justin Adams

Tom Dolan seated at his desk in Sandy City Hall. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

“People might not want to believe this but I’ve been smiling since the night of the election,” said Mayor Tom Dolan, who will be leaving office in January after losing an election to a challenger for the first time in 24 years.

Being mayor for over two decades certainly wasn’t Dolan’s intention when he first ran in 1994. In fact, he didn’t even want to run at all.

“I wanted somebody else to run for mayor but no one else was willing to do it ... So I did and I won,” he said.

“I expected to serve only one term like most of the mayors prior to me had done but when my second term came up I didn’t really have any opposition.”

The most stressful period of Dolan’s tenure occurred within his first year of being in office. Utah Power and Light wanted to run some high-voltage power lines through the center of the city. When both Dolan and the city council insisted that the lines be buried, Utah Power and Light shut off power to the entire city of Sandy.

“We had to lease generators to operate the areas of the city that were without power. As a new mayor that was very stressful,” he said.

In many ways, that event was a taste of things to come. Since then, Dolan has overseen many major developments within the city, each of which could have been an event stressful enough to make someone want to retire. Examples include the controversial development of the shopping center at Quarry Bend, the construction of Rio Tinto Stadium and the city’s current 30-year master plan to develop the Cairns district. 

“It’s a 365-days-per-year position. The pressure and stress never go away. I’m finding out that being less stressed is wonderful,” said Dolan.

The work that Dolan did over the years earned him a lot of recognition, such as in 2010 when he was given an award recognizing him as the best mayor in the state of Utah that year.

Dolan said he was also recruited to run for other political offices over the years, such as state positions and even congress, but he turned them all down. “My only interest was in Sandy,” he said.  

Taking over Dolan’s office in City Hall will be Kurt Bradburn, a young state attorney who ran on a campaign that criticized the rapid growth and development that has taken place under Dolan. Despite an election race that included a few personal attacks between the candidates, Mayor Dolan said he holds no ill will toward the man who unseated him.

“I believe in democracy. If people want to change directions, I really support that. I think it’s a good thing. I think the new mayor is young and vibrant and will have an opportunity to bring the city to a higher plane and find some new thoughts, ideas and directions for the city.”

Likewise, Bradburn told the Sandy City Journal that despite the criticisms that he leveled at Dolan’s administration, he believes that Dolan did an overall “tremendous” job in his time as mayor. 

Dolan said that he recently met with Bradburn to give him some advice, the foremost of which he said was to not let the position distract from the more important responsibility toward his family. 

Being able to spend more time with family the last few weeks has made the transition easier for Dolan. “I have a granddaughter that just turned 3 and I actually babysat her for the first time in the last couple weeks,” he said. 

As much as he’s looking forward to spending more time with his family, Dolan said he is also really going to miss the people that he works with as well as the opportunities for interaction with Sandy residents. 

“It’s been a wonderful experience. I love the people I work with, the opportunity to serve people, to be a public servant,” he said. 

“I’ve learned that success as a mayor is based on the relationships you build with others. People ask me a lot what makes Sandy a great community. I’ve thought about that a lot over the years and there’s no question in my mind that it’s the people who live here, the citizens, that make Sandy a great community.”

One thing Dolan won’t miss: meetings. “My whole life is meetings!” Not attending weekly city council meetings in particular is one thing that he said he will have to adjust to. 

“My wife said I’m going to have to find something else to do on Tuesday nights because it’s been 24 years so she has her own schedule on Tuesdays: she doesn’t cook and she watches her own TV shows.”

As for his future plans, Dolan said he won’t think about it too much until the new year, but that he does expect to continue serving on multiple committees and commissions in the community. 

One thing he won’t be doing is reminiscing too much on the past 24 years.

“I normally don’t look back on things. I always look forward. I think the best is yet to come for this city,” he said.

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