GUNNISON—Carl Wimmer, the former state representative from Herriman who was defeated by Mia Love for the right to represent Republicans in Utah’s 4th Congressional District and then snubbed for the job as Nevada’s Republican director, said he is ready for some time away from the spotlight.
Wimmer is returning to his roots as a police officer — in this case a high school resource officer— in the central Utah city of Gunnison, population 3,285. He said he hasn't ruled out another run for public office sometime in the future, but will relocate his family to Gunnison and return to his former profession.
“I have a passion for politics,” he said. “I am passionate about conservative issues. I was a founder of the Patrick Henry Caucus. But right now, I am focused on raising my young family.”
Wimmer, 37 and his wife Sherry have three children, ages 5, 8 and 10 and are also raising two special-needs foster children. One child, who is 8, has cerebral palsy and the other child, the boy’s 11-year-old brother, was born deaf.
“I am learning sign language,” Wimmer said. “Slowly.”
He said the proximity of quality medical services in the area, at Gunnison Valley Hospital in downtown Gunnison, played a part in the decision to move to the city in Sanpete County.
Wimmer, who was raised in West Valley City and moved to Herriman 12 years ago, resigned his seat during his third term in House District 52 to run for Utah’s new Fourth Congressional District. He lost in the convention to fellow Republican Mia Love, who will be facing incumbent Democrat Jim Matheson this November.
Wimmer gained prominence in Utah as an ardent advocate of traditional conservative values. He introduced legislation that would have prohibited the state from implementing federal health care reforms authorized by Congress and recently upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court.
He also introduced a constitutional amendment prohibiting “card check” union votes, rather than voting by secret ballot and legislation nullifying a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act concerning abortions, thus allowing doctors and hospitals with religious objections to the procedure to opt out of performing it without repercussions.
Wimmer also pushed to defeat the University of Utah’s ban on legally concealed weapons. He won reelection in 2010 with 79 percent of the vote in his district.
His decision to return to law enforcement came after an apparent offer to take over as Nevada GOP director fell through two months ago. Wimmer said at the time that he was offered the job by Jesse Law, who represented himself as the “acting political director” of the Nevada GOP Party.
After Wimmer announced his appointment to the Utah press, he learned that Law was not the party’s acting director. In fact, he was an unofficial aide to GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, who said he had never heard of Wimmer.
Wimmer traveled to Nevada and within a few days was on the road back to Utah, characterizing the Nevada state party as confused and “non-functional” and leaving him out of a job in a very public way.
He said he and his wife, Sherry decided he should return to law enforcement, where he had worked for 12 years before he got into politics.
“The thing about being a police officer is the job can take you anywhere,” he said. “When we drove to Gunnison, we fell in love with the city. We fell in love with Sanpete County. We love the people. This is a great place to raise children.”
The job of resource officer will be a change of pace for Wimmer. Before he got into politics, Wimmer was a SWAT commander and tactical trainer. School resource officers function as counselors and teachers, working with school officials, local authorities and parents to keep teenage students out of trouble.
But Wimmer, who has already started the job, has worked with kids before. He won recognition as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Officer of the Year while he was in Herriman. And he is enthusiastic about the position.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I want to see if we can make a difference in these kids’ lives. I really believe we can.”
City police chief Trent Halliday said Wimmer "is a great addition to the department.”
Wimmer is renting a house in Gunnison ahd said he plans to move his family down soon. He and his wife will rent out their house in Herriman. And he said will keep his eye on the political scene, even the local political scene in Gunnison. He said he won’t rule out a run for one of the local political offices, though the city’s mayor, Lori Nay, and the county sheriff, Brian Nielson, can breathe easy.
“I have a tremendous respect for both of them,” he said. “I wouldn’t run for their offices unless they decided not to run.”
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company