We can't just issue edicts or say we're going to do everything differently. —Mark Crockett
HOLLADAY — Friends and colleagues say Mark Crockett would make a great Salt Lake County mayor.
They just aren't sure why he'd want to step away from a successful and lucrative 20-year career as a consultant, helping businesses save billions of dollars by improving management and cutting costs.
"I would love to have him stay in business," said Adam Wayment, who works for Crockett's Vici Capital Partners, "because he's very good at what he does."
Sitting at a patio table in the front yard of his Holladay home, Crockett talks about his past business successes and how he says they've prepared him for the job of Salt Lake County mayor.
Building on experience gained during his time with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Crockett worked to develop a new approach to fixing companies, one that brings together all stakeholders to find changes that will actually make a difference.
"To date, we've done it with dozens of organizations and saved billions of dollars a year to use for better purposes," he said. "That's my career."
And Crockett said he believes that's what Salt Lake County needs.
Like a large corporation headed in the wrong direction, Salt Lake County is overdue for an overhaul, he said. The county government has been borrowing and spending too much.
It's an organization that needs fixing, Crockett said, starting with its budget.
"We can't just issue edicts or say we're going to do everything differently," he said. "That just doesn't work."
Crockett's method involves bringing together those who run the programs with those who use them and even those who don't like them to analyze every aspect of them and ultimately redesign them.
By doing so, Crockett estimates the county can save between $40 million to $80 million per year — roughly 10 to 15 percent of its budget — and then reinvest that money into the programs to improve them.
"Every place that I've ever gone, that's what happened," he said.
Wayment says Crockett has a way of motivating people to work harder and smarter, teaching them better ways to approach problems and overall making them move valuable to their respective companies.
"He just knows how to get people to do things," said Wayment, who's worked with Crockett for about eight years, most recently at Vici. "They'll go out and do it, come back and report. He's very good at pointing people in the right direction."
Cottonwood Heights Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore said he got to know Crockett while he was running for mayor and Crockett was campaigning for Salt Lake County Council. After both were elected, they worked together on several projects, as part of Cottonwood Heights fell in Crockett's district.
"I was so impressed with his skills that I asked him to serve on the board of directors in my company," Cullimore said.
Today, Crockett is a board adviser for Dynatronics Corp., a Salt Lake City-based manufacturer of medical devices for physical therapy. Cullimore serves as the company's CEO.
"With Mark, his whole business has been working with large corporations," Cullimore said. "He brings to the table experience and knowledge about how to streamline and make large organizations more efficient, and I can't think of any (experience) you'd need more (as Salt Lake County mayor) than that."
Crockett was the top vote-getter at the Salt Lake County Republican convention in April, garnering 58 percent of the delegate vote compared with 42 percent for Mike Winder in the second round of voting. Crockett and Winder will meet in a Republican primary June 26, with the winner advancing to the general election to face Democrat Ben McAdams on Nov. 6.
On his campaign website, Crockett has outlined a month-by-month plan for reforming the county budget his first year in office, listing problems with the status quo and proposing solutions.
"I'm very confident about it because I've done it many times before," he said.
Cutting programs to save money often is the initial reaction from organizations in need of a turnaround, Crockett said. That's generally not the right move, he said, and that's especially true with the county.
"The unique role of the county is (taking care of) people we're worried about but haven't given up on yet," such as seniors, at-risk kids and those in drug treatment or mental health programs, he said. "Those are the core basic purposes of the county that no one else can do."
Crockett said the county must focus more on those services rather than borrowing and spending money on non-essential perks like the Real Salt Lake soccer stadium or Salt Lake City's planned Utah Performing Arts Center.
"We've borrowed almost $2 billion in the past eight years through the county," he said. "We just can't keep doing that."
Crockett said the county has manged to keep its operating budget in check during the past eight years while Democrat Peter Corroon has been in office, but he takes issue with the way that was accomplished.
"(The county has been) holding pay down, asking employees to go without," he said. "That's a ticking time bomb. It does not last."
Instead, county employees need to be treated like partners in the process of redesigning programs, along with residents and other stakeholders, Crockett said.
"People on the front lines know the answers," he said. "I don't think we want one smart mayor and nine council members pretending to be as smart as a million residents of Salt Lake County."
During his time on the County Council, Crockett said he opposed or worked to limit bond initiatives on 17 of 19 occasions.
"Mark has been a bona fide conservative," Cullimore said. "If you go back and look at his record when he was on the County Council, he was constantly trying to diminish the impact of bonds and taxes, even taking unpopular stands like opposing the soccer stadium."
The Cottonwood Heights mayor calls Crockett's time on the County Council an "invaluable" experience that gives him "a running start" if elected mayor.
"He'll be stepping into a very challenging situation," Cullimore said, "but he has a real dedication to making the county better."
Occupation: Managing director of Vici Capital Partners
Politics: Served on the Salt Lake County Council, 2005-08
Education: Bachelors degree in economics from BYU; law degree from Stanford
Family: Wife, Judy; two daughters
Age: 364 comments on this story
Occupation: Author; previously worked as vice president of marketing for the family business, Winder Farms
Politics: Mayor of West Valley City, 2010-present; West Valley City councilman, 2006-09.
Education: Bachelor's degree in history and master of business administration from the University of Utah; certificate from executive leadership program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government
Family: Wife, Karyn; four children
Residence: West Valley City