BY REBECCA PALMER
BOUNTIFUL — The mayor and city council have chosen a true son of the city to lead the town as city manager.
Gary Hill, 39, will return to his family roots in early February. He will take over for Russell Mahan, the city attorney who has doubled as interim manager since beloved city manager Tom Hardy left to serve a mission for his church about a year ago.
Hill has been the city manager in West Point. His family has lived in Bountiful for more than six generations, and he grew up within a stone’s throw of the place where his grandfather bought land and built a home.
In fact, Hill’s fifth great-grandfather was an early settler here and the first bishop in the city for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hill told the council. Hill’s wife is a direct descendant of Bountiful founder Perrigrine Sessions.
Mayor Joe Johnson and the city council knew Hill and knew about his roots, but didn’t factor that into their decision, Johnson said. They chose among 52 applicants.
“First of all, I like his detail,” Johnson said, explaining why he supported hiring Hill.
“He crosses all the T’s and dots the I’s, more than I thought he would.”
Johnson explained that he watched Hill grow up, and saw the young man’s career progress as he worked in Park City and, most recently, in West Point.
In fact, Hill performed in a singing group directed by the mayor’s wife in his childhood, he said.
Three generations and about 15 members of the new manager’s family attended the city council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11 when officials voted unanimously to hire Hill for the position.
“My feet are at least six inches off the ground,” said Dick “Stick” Hill, Gary Hill’s father, after the meeting. “I think Gary saw, by my lack of education, that he could have a better life and a more secure life, and I think that higher education was one of the things we always focused on.”
Of all his children, Stick Hill said, Gary Hill loves history the most.
After a two-week break between jobs, Gary Hill will have a chance to add to Bountiful history himself, but he has yet to announce plans or initiatives he intends to pursue.
“The first step is getting to know the council and the staff here,” he said.
Hardy’s name was mentioned only a few times in the meeting, but after having served in the position for 32 years, his legacy was apparent from the time the officials started discussing a new manager until well after the guests had gone.
“It’s always going to be different from the way Tom Hardy did it, but that’s just fine,” Johnson said, after admitting that letting any new person into the city will be a challenge. “Tom had all the political connections, but Gary has all the details.”