Mayor Kirk Hunsaker did not, as he puts it, “aspire” to doing anything political at all. But in his construction job, he helped develop and build many subdivisions in Provo and Orem, Utah. In watching the growth of those two cities Mayor Hunsaker admits he did enjoy being involved in the “excitement of growth”.
It was a 22-mile move south from his home in Orem, a city of 100,000, to a new home in a quiet community of 14,000 surrounded by orchards and towered over on the east by 12,000 foot Mt. Nebo; that saw this excited builder first serve on his new home’s city council to running unopposed twice in becoming the mayor of Santaquin, Utah. The excitement of growth with new subdivisions pushing up against the community’s pioneer farm family orchards has followed Mayor Hunsaker, to his new digs in the south explained as the Mayor sits down with Candidates.vote’s Clark H. Caras for a question and answer session.
Candidates.vote– Two unopposed campaigns for mayor really doesn’t tell the most unique thing about your being “elected” as mayor of Santaquin does it Mayor Hunsaker?
Mayor Hunsaker– We had moved to Santaquin and I had a friend on the council when another councilman resigned and my friend convinced me to apply for the open spot. The city council interviewed six of us for the spot one at a time.
We weren’t allowed to sit in on the other applicant’s interviews, but my wife was able to be part of the public who sat in. I asked her how I’d done and she told me terrible, that the other interviewees were a lot better than me. It ended up being a 6-0 vote for me and that’s when all of this began.
Candidates.vote– How long did you serve on the city council until your campaign for mayor?
Mayor Hunsaker– I served one year on the council and then filed to run for mayor and ended up being unopposed. Then I ran again… unopposed and have been in office for six years.
Candidates.vote– What’s one of the biggest differences between the first term and the second term that you are serving in now?
Mayor Hunsaker– (Answering with a low chuckle.) Yes, there is. My wife never came to a single council meeting the first term. Now she doesn’t miss a meeting and supports me in all the events, ground breakings and other things I’m invited to. I think she might like to take a run for the office someday.
Candidates.vote– Your council is established in a way where the mayor doesn’t cast a vote unless there is a tie. How do you see yourself in that position and in it how many times have you had to be the tie-breaker?
Mayor Hunsaker– We have an amazing and great council. They are all there for the meetings every single time. I’m just the lobbyer. There has only been one time in the six years a councilmember was not there and I had to cast a vote. I can’t even remember the issue.
Candidates.vote– Mayor Hunsaker; this is a question I typically begin each interview with, but it’s rare these interviews are done face-to-face and I want to thank you for inviting me into the Mayor’s Office. It only seemed appropriate to begin by discussing your position as mayor.
I’ll ask you now though the question that is typically the first I ask and then we see where things go. Mayor Hunsaker are you a hamburger or a cheeseburger kind of person?
Mayor Hunsaker– (An answer coming almost before I finish asking the question!) Cheeseburger. It comes from growing up in Star Valley, Wyoming on a dairy farm.
Candidates.vote– Besides shaping what you’ll eat on a beef patty, being raised milking cows in a mountain valley in Wyoming had to of influenced you in so many ways in your life.
Mayor Hunsaker– I remember hauling milk with my father to the creamery in Afton, Wyoming, and looking into the large vats of cream being turned into butter. You couldn’t do this now, but I loved reaching down and scooping up the butter and eating the wonderfully creamy stuff. I’d watch how the cheese was made too.
There was nothing better for supper sometimes like homemade bread torn up and put in a bowl with fresh milk poured over it. I guess you’d say it was an acquired taste.
Candidates.vote– Going from growing up milking cows to being a mayor and overseeing the building of a new water treatment plant has got to seem a million miles apart?
Mayor Hunsaker– My father passed away when he was just 63 years old. Mom was 97 years old when we lost her. My dad always worked a fulltime job to keep the farm going. He would go to work and leave a list of things for each of us to do. And if it was not done when he got home we better of had a good excuse.
Candidates.vote– What is the mayor of Santaquin reading right now, or what is it he enjoys reading?
Mayor Hunsaker– I’m reading “Insights from a Prophet’s Life: Russell M. Nelson” by Sheri L. Dew. It’s amazing to read about what he has done in his life and accomplished in leadership (Mayor Hunsaker is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the book is about its present leader.).
I’m also reading “Leadership – Lessons from the Presidents for Turbulent Times”, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It details the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
Candidates.vote– What are some of the things you love about being the mayor of Santaquin?
Mayor Hunsaker– I just love being able to serve. And I’ll say something I know isn’t politically correct, but I’ll say it. I pray every day for the citizens of Santaquin. We just replaced the last lead pipes in the city, put in a three and one-half million gallon irrigation tank. And we’re going on five years with our new water treatment plant that helps us keep all of the water we use right here in the city. We estimate our Type 1 plant has treated five billion gallons of water in those five years.
And I love our orchards. We will be celebrating Orchard Days the first week of August with a full day of Mutton Busting, two rodeos, parades and fireworks.
Candidates.vote– On behalf of Candidates.vote I want to thank you Mayor Hunsaker for your story and your time.