After 16 years of service, the second woman ever to serve on the Bountiful City Council says she believes more than ever that public servants can make a greater difference in local communities than anywhere else.
Phyllis Southwick, who resigned her post in March, has become almost a permanent fixture of Bountiful politics and a living example of her life's study - building communities."I was concerned about the city for most every day for sixteen years," she said. She believes that while other elected offices may be more glamorous, local city officials make the most difference in the quality of communities.
Even though she will no longer sit in on City Council decisions, she won't stop thinking about local communities. Along with visiting her grandchildren, traveling and writing poetry, she also plans to write about community problems and solutions.
"I want to really talk about the community, exploring what needs to be done and really doing it. I think I have a lot left to give," she said.
Looking at her 15-page resume, no one can say Southwick hasn't already given much and is taking a well-deserved rest.
Her accomplishments include a doctorate in social work, adjunct professor of social work at the University of Utah, member of the State Health Coordinating Council and former executive director of Neighborhood House on Salt Lake City's west side.
In Bountiful, she has served on the Planning Commission and been a strong advocate of arts and recreation programs in the city. She helped start the Bountiful-Davis Art Center, Summerfest program and secured funding for the golf course.
"She is very talented, able and has given freely of her time. There are few people in the history of the city that have given as much as Phyllis Southwick has," said Mayor Dean S. Stahle.
Southwick said part of her desire for public service is inspired by her grandmother, Annie Wells Cannon, who served in the Utah State Legislature, and Emmeline B. Wells, who worked for women's suffrage. She believes more women need to get involved in government and community service.
"I think we do need to have more women (in government). I don't know why they don't come out and get in the political arena," she said.
Her efforts have been instrumental in organizing the Davis County Mental Health Clinic, creating the Davis County Community Services Council and Bountiful Law Observance Advisory Board. She also helped establish a social worker licensing program in the state.
While she has pioneered territory that has traditionally been reserved for men on the Bountiful Council, she has also brought human touches to government.
Barbara Holt, who was elected to the council in 1988, said, "I first came on the council with mixed feelings. After I won the election, I had a lot of apprehension. Mrs. Southwick went out of her way to make me feel comfortable. She was genuinely glad to have me there. She is a good woman. She has given to other communities and really does give a great deal of herself."
Southwick credits part of her success to her husband, A.J. Southwick Jr., who has supported her through everything from political controversies in the late 1970s to day and night planning during the floods in the early 1980s.
She recalls with humor the fuss that was made over her when she was considered for a seat in the Utah House of Representatives. Then Gov. Scott Matheson appointed her to fill an unexpired term, but then Republican leaders backed away from the decision.
"They thought I was too controversial. I think they wanted a man there," she said.