Elaine Redd changed the face of Draper.
The mayor of the southeast Salt Lake County municipality from 1994 to ’97 died last week at age 86. During her term, Draper was fraught with growing pains and the difficult transition from sleepy farm town to mushrooming suburb.
But before her political career, Redd was a business owner, as well as the mother of six children.
A native of San Juan County, she came to Salt Lake City after graduating from high school. She learned her work ethic on the family farm, said daughter Vickie Davis. Despite her responsibilities at Draper City Hall or her church, the energetic Redd always had time for her children and grandchildren.
“Hers was the place to go whether it was Christmas, July 24 or Easter,” Davis said. “She always had a party for the grandkids.”
With her second husband, L. Howard Redd, she owned two nursing homes and served as president of the Utah Health Care Association. Later, the couple opened The Hogan Trading Post.
But Redd may be remembered most for her tumultuous term as mayor when the South Mountain development was approved and ushered Draper into a new era. The large development proposal set the stage for controversy, and Redd’s interactions with the City Council provided a fair share of fireworks.
“She was a dynamic person,” recalled former City Councilman Lyn Kimball. “She had a strong will and moved ahead to accomplish things.”
Although she cast the deciding vote to approve South Mountain, Kimball remembers Redd as one who wanted to take more of a go-slow approach to Draper’s boom. Redd had a lot of supporters among longtime residents, he said.
But pressure from growth helped ignite friction between the mayor and the council.
“It was a tough time for residents and the City Council in Draper,” Kimball said. “It had been a small city and it was growing rapidly.”
Redd’s desire to change the municipality to a strong-mayor form of government put her on a collision course with some council members and then-City Manager David Campbell. Conditions grew so divisive that Redd sat out the last six months of her term, Kimball said.
“She did not have the support of the council and was at cross-purposes with Dave Campbell,” Kimball remembered. “The council asked me to serve the last six months of her term as mayor pro tem.”
Four-term Councilman Bill Colbert did not serve with Redd but said she played a key role as the city evolved from a small town into a small city. He, too, said that growing pains often put her at odds with the council.
“She helped change Draper,” Colbert said, “and bore the brunt of supporting the [South Mountain] development that changed Draper.”
But Redd didn’t leave in bitterness, her daughter recalled. “She was a strong person. She didn’t have a feeling that she didn’t have a right to speak her mind,” Davis said. “But she also listened. And she respected what others had to say.”