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Mayor of Eureka: The man who blew up Utah GOP convention
Politics » Tirade at the mic isn’t his main problem – residents don’t trust him.


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The nearest cellphone service is heading east on Highway 6, close to Elberta.

Across the street from Brewer’s shop is Brad’s Guns. Owners Brad and Tammy Hiskey complained they made repeated attempts to get a business license signed by Hanks so they could operate.

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Instead, it took weeks for him to sign it.

"For a mayor who claims to be pro-business, you’d think he’d want to help that along," Tammy Hiskey said.

Her husband leaned against the counter of their tiny shop not far from a rusting, yellow caboose used as a hangout by local kids.

"He hasn’t done anything," he said.

But Hanks points a finger at Baum, saying he’s holding up progress by refusing to sell the old buildings and letting developers come in and do work. He said as long as Baum has a hold on that key part of the street, it can’t change.

Baum said, however, if he sells the buildings he bought 15 years ago now, he’d never get his money back on them. And in that stalemate, the stores remain largely empty and the city’s only bank is an ATM at City Hall.

A complicated man » Hanks won his mayor’s spot by a landslide in 2009 — 213 votes to 30 votes for Theron Hardin. For the town of about 700 people, Hanks was largely an unknown quantity coming from Cedar Hills. He’d lived in town for five years, renting a small house near the elementary school.


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He was born in Idaho, but grew up in Oregon and Ohio before moving to Utah. It was in Ohio that he damaged nerves in his left hand when goofing around with a friend and putting his fist through a glass window. In 1972, he avoided being drafted by the U.S. Army and Marines by enlisting in the Air Force.

After a six-year stint in the military ("a vanilla record") he did a slew of jobs ranging from teaching to venture capitalism. At one point, he said he spent a year living on a boat and sailing around the Caribbean.

He’s been married for more than 40 years, but lives apart from his wife. He said she suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and he could no longer live with her — they’ve lived apart for about nine years. But he said he wouldn’t divorce her.

"It’s complicated," he said.

Hanks’ life is also marred by financial struggles.

He has filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy twice, in 1995 and in 2005. In each case, the debts weren’t dismissed and state court records show about a half-dozen lawsuits filed in attempts to collect money — the largest in excess of $23,000.

Several Eureka residents said they had heard about his jumbled past, but most just seem to wish he was doing more to inject economic vitality into town.

Susan Jackson, who has lived in Eureka for 44 years, said she remembers the city being "a ghost town" growing up and thinks Hanks has done well as a leader. But she said he has been stymied by people who don’t want to see change.

"He’s tried hard to work with people, but there are just some in this community who don’t want to and it’s been sort of a head-butting situation," Jackson said. "I think he’s tried to make Eureka better — but he’s been constrained."

Hanks says he was instrumental in bringing back Silver Days — an August event that features a parade and booths to commemorate the city’s rich history as a mining town.

"We need some community identity," he said. "It was a good place to start."

He also touts his getting historic lighting to the main street — though right now it’s only three light poles — and said when KSL Radio personality Doug Wright, who owns a home in the area, brings motorcycle rides to the city, it’s a boost to the image.

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