Maile Wilson grew up knowing she would someday be a Thunderbird. But what she never expected was to be named Cedar City’s first female mayor, charged with leading her hometown through a time of dynamic growth and change.
Securing nearly 56 percent of the vote over opponent John Black, Wilson was named the victor in the Cedar City mayoral election and is now preparing to take office in January, 2014.
“I have always wanted to serve in public office,” Wilson said. “I’m so excited to give back to the community in this new role.”
A native of Cedar City, the newly elected Wilson has close ties with Southern Utah University, having earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees there.
In 2010, Wilson completed her master’s of public administration before pursuing a juris doctorate at the Charlotte School of Law in North Carolina. After completing her J.D. this spring, Wilson returned to Utah and began planning her mayoral run.
“My MPA studies at SUU helped provide a foundation for working in local government,” Wilson said. “Looking at various issues, performing research and doing policy projects gave me a great background and will help me handle issues as they arise.”
MPA instructor Randy Allen says the program’s faculty couldn’t be prouder of Wilson’s success. “She ran a great campaign and reached out to everyone,” said Allen. “She is participatory and positive—both great traits in a mayor.”
At age 27, Wilson is possibly the youngest mayor ever to be elected in Cedar City.
“People often consider age to be a liability,” Allen remarked. “But on the contrary, it’s a great thing to have a young, idealistic person in local government.”
Among her top priorities as mayor, Wilson wants to increase transparency in government by utilizing online communications and social media to both inform the public and invite their participation in the political process.
“I want to use technology to help the community feel connected to their government,” Wilson said.
Of her preparedness to take office, MPA director Pat Keehley believes Wilson’s academic training gives her a great advantage. “She will be a well prepared, great leader and will bring fresh ideas to the city.”
Wilson’s family has a legacy of public service in the area, both on and off campus. Her grandparents are former faculty members of SUU and her grandfather, Loren Whetten, served two terms as mayor of Cedar City.
“I grew up with SUU,” Wilson said. “My family has a long history with the University and we have many alumni in our family.”
When asked if she had any plans specifically related to SUU, Wilson said that will largely depend on who the University’s new president is. “Until the new president is named, we will continue to work with Interim President Rich Kendell and make sure we maintain the great relationship that exists between the city, the community and the University,” Wilson said.
Wilson believes that SUU is a vital component of Cedar City’s success and wants to foster a productive partnership during her term as mayor. “We’re all working toward the same goal—to bring people to our community to encourage economic development and growth. Students are a big part of that.”
During Wilson’s graduate experience at SUU, she worked in Alumni Relations assisting with events and donor relations. As an undergraduate student studying political science, Wilson worked as an administrative assistant in the Office of the Provost.
Believing that her education played an enormous role in her success, Wilson encourages other T-Birds to make the most of their time at SUU. “Get involved in as many organizations and activities as you can,” she said. “You never know where they’ll lead you.”