Pignanelli & Webb: “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters. This week, the University of Utah hosted a public memorial for former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson. But we also remember the lives of two other prominent politicians, Congressman Chris Cannon and State Sen. Richard Carling. Your columnists knew all three very well and we will miss them. Their political careers are inspirational and the challenges they faced are instructional.

Ted Wilson: Salt Lake City Mayor 1976-1985; candidate for U.S. Senate 1982; candidate for governor 1988. Wilson was a popular mayor and well-respected director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics. The early polls indicated he would win the governor’s race in 1988 but he was bested by incumbent Gov. Norm Bangerter in a three-way race that included Independent Merrill Cook.

Wilson was exactly the leader Salt Lake City needed in the late 1970s and 1980s. His charisma and personality not only invigorated Utahns but prompted companies and organizations across the country to consider doing business here.

He suffered some minor hiccups (like Main Street beautification) but also won significant victories (preventing terrible destruction from the 1983 floods and changing the form of government to ensure better representation). Utah’s capital still enjoys the benefits of his vision.

Wilson was a popular candidate for governor in 1988, at one point enjoying a near 30-point lead in the polls. Democrats were also resurgent that year, capturing positions in the Legislature, attorney general, county offices and even in Congress. But as November approached, the Bangerter campaign (led by Frank’s former business partner Doug Foxley) and independent candidate Cook (who criticized tax increases initiated by Bangerter) developed credible messaging.

Unfortunately for Wilson, his campaign did not adequately counter Bangerter’s end-of-campaign momentum. Utahns continued to admire the former mayor even after he lost. Indeed, many of Bangerter’s campaign operatives became his friends and supported his other endeavors.

Wilson’s leadership is also reflected by his success and mentorship at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, and his appointment to a cabinet position by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.

Chris Cannon: U.S. House of Representatives, 3rd District, 1997-2009. Cannon was a successful lawyer, businessman and venture capitalist who was elected to Congress in 1996. He was defeated in the 2008 GOP primary by Jason Chaffetz.

A one-time roommate of LaVarr’s during a Washington, D.C., internship, Cannon was a creative intellectual who could juggle a number of complicated issues and ideas simultaneously. He helped revitalize Geneva Steel and created numerous jobs and opportunities for Utah County residents. As a congressman, Cannon was a conservative but successfully worked across the aisle and cleared obstacles so new technologies could blossom. His tech insights helped produce a high-tech boom in the state. A conversation with Cannon was often a wild amusement ride that went unpredictable places on sophisticated topics. He was a master of the details.

But 21st-century politics were evolving. Candidates needed proficiency in social media, brief talking points and red meat for conservative Republicans. Chaffetz was a charismatic candidate who knew how to excite the base. He understood policy substance, utilized new technologies, while promising change. These are the skills that primary voters selected despite their affection for Cannon.

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Richard Carling: Elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1966, representing the downtown Salt Lake City area. Elected to the Utah Senate in 1976. Lost reelection in 1990 after 24 years of service. A successful attorney, Carling was famous for his obsession with running (155 marathon races and 39 consecutive Boston Marathons). As Utah was beginning to expand over half a century ago, visionary lawmakers were needed to fund public education, universities and social programs. Carling and a group of other senators are beloved by old timers like us for their willingness to work together, across the aisle, and establish the foundation for which we enjoy today.

Carling was a true gentleman who treated people kindly. This explains why in his final election, Dick enjoyed the endorsement of many traditional liberal organizations. But politics was changing in Salt Lake City. The capital city was becoming more Democratic as the rest of the state became more Republican. This demographic shift impacted Carling’s reelection effort against Robert Steiner (who ran a great retail political campaign). Carling will always be remembered as one of Utah’s greatest competitive runners. LaVarr and Frank each relished many opportunities trying to keep up with him on runs up City Creek Canyon where he was the local hero to many who enjoyed his company.

Are there common character traits among these beloved community leaders that can serve as inspiration for future generations? They each taught how to win magnanimously, and how to lose gracefully. They will be remembered for how they spread the credit, treated everyone with dignity and respect regardless of party affiliation or personal characteristics, and how to enjoy time spent in public service. They inspired people who are making a difference today who will hopefully carry on these traditions.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a former journalist and a semi-retired small farmer and political consultant. Email:lwebb@exoro.com. Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser who served as a Democrat in the Utah state Legislature. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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