Word About Town

Meet Nann Worel, the First Woman to Lead Park City

The mayor has endurance to lead the city—and run marathons.

With Jane Gendron Photography by David Newkirk June 27, 2022 Published in the Summer/Fall 2022 issue of Park City Magazine

Nann Worel

Image: David Newkirk

Nann Worrel has run 16 marathons—a feat of endurance rivaled only, perhaps, by her five-and-a-half-year stint on the notoriously grueling planning commission. Her depth of service spans decades, from Navy nurse to executive director of the People’s Health Clinic to city councilor to a slew of committees and boards. Here, the first woman to ascend to the city’s top job talks about building bridges, tackling planning, considering an Olympics encore, and an array of intertwined issues facing this rapidly changing mountain town.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Park City Magazine: What brought you to Park City, and why did you stay?
Nann Worel: Skiing. I’m a native of Seattle and grew up skiing and then married my husband and ended up living in Alabama for over 20 years. We both wanted to come back out West, so we bought a second home here in 2003 and just absolutely fell in love with the community. When our only child went to college, we moved here full time in 2008.

PCM: How have you seen Park City change during the time that you’ve been here? What do you view as positive, and what are you concerned about?
I was a kid in the candy store when we moved here to Park City, because people were so welcoming. People went out of their way to connect you with different people. The welcoming and inclusive nature of this community—I’m afraid that we’re losing some of that. And I’m tired of hearing and reading disparaging things about people who have license plates from different states. They’re as much a resident here as the rest of us are. I would wish for them the same welcome that I got when I arrived.

PCM: What goals are your priorities?
They’re so intertwined. My years on the planning commission really reinforced the importance of planning. We need to update our general plan to reflect current positions. The last one was done in 2014. They’re generally about a 10-year plan, and it takes a couple years to get it done. We need to start that process now. So that’s a priority for me ... and figuring out an overarching transportation plan.

PCM: How do we best tackle local issues?
Rebuilding relationships. We can’t solve the issues that are facing our community if we try to do it within the city limits alone. Our traffic problems don’t stop and start at the White Barn. What happens within the city certainly affects our neighbors.... At times in the past, Park City has been perceived as arrogant and not willing to work with others. That’s changing. That’s got to change. We’ve got to be out there saying, “I want to work with you. How can we change this together?”

PCM: What would you like to see on that five-acre Bonanza Park parcel the city purchased back in 2017?
I’m still a fan of arts and culture. We have letters of intent with both Kimball Art Center and Sundance Institute, and due to Covid and other factors, it’s been a while since the partners have sat down together and said, “Where do we want to go from here?”

PCM: What’s Park City’s potential role in an encore Olympics, perhaps as soon as 2030?
I was not here for the 2002 Olympics, so selfishly I think it would be really exciting. I keep hearing that it was such a great way to unify the community. But I’m hearing both sides [for and against hosting another Olympics]. We need to have that conversation as a community: What worked well last time? What didn’t work? What’s different now than it was in 2002? Both resorts have expressed an interest in being Olympic venues, and I’m not sure how Park City itself couldn’t participate if both resorts are venues. Our [city] council and Summit County council agree: this has got to be a joint project.

PCM: Given that our resort economy is tied to Mother Nature, how is the city doing as far as sustainability goals?
We’re there in terms of our net zero by 2022 energy goals for city buildings. The next one is going to be much more challenging. It’s going to require changing individual behavior to bring the community to net zero by 2030. And we need buy-in from visitors and second-home owners.

PCM: How do you hope Park City is going to emerge from this pandemic-hued couple of years?
United with a renewed sense of energy and commitment to this community. I’m already seeing it. People are coming out of the woodwork to be involved and saying, “Put me on a committee.”

PCM: What other big challenges and opportunities does Park City face?
Council made social equity a critical priority in 2018. I’m excited it’s part of the conversation now. How can we be more inclusive? We need to give people the skills they need to be successful as they join boards or decide to run for an elected seat. It does people a disservice to say, “We want you to be on our board,” when they’ve never seen a spreadsheet or a balance sheet. So one of my goals is to start some sort of a leadership training program. Childcare is also a big issue for me. We have members of our community that can’t be in the workforce because they don’t have safe, reliable, and affordable childcare.

PCM: How do you address the need for affordable housing and the growing wealth divide?
I think it’s really encouraging that the Board of Realtors now has made affordable housing a priority, and they’re looking at ways for that industry to support affordable housing. I’m looking forward to some in-depth conversations about how we work together to make that happen. Affordability has to be the lens that the council looks at every decision through.

PCM: What lessons from working with veterans and nonprofits do you bring to city hall?
Service. I learned in the Navy that leadership is about service. I was elected to serve the people of Park City. I wasn’t elected to bring my own agenda into office. I was elected to listen to the people and represent them. That’s my philosophy.

PCM: What does it mean to you to be the first woman elected mayor of Park City?
It’s humbling. I’m excited to be able to be a role model for younger women. I did not campaign on gender at all, because I wanted to be elected on my skill set, not because I was a woman. I consider it a bonus that I am a woman. But that wasn’t the motivating factor why I ran.
I ran because I felt like I could make a difference.

Favorite hiking trail
Armstrong (with après-hike reward at Silver Star Café)

Favorite ski trail
Stein’s Way, Deer Valley Resort

Go-to coffee shop
Lucky Ones Coffee

Favorite local brew
Offset Bier

Favorite marathon
Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas

Best local running route
Lower Deer Valley and Old Town

Favorite PC tradition/event
Miners’ Day

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