Tom Westmoreland

Tom Westmoreland

Adapted in part from “Making Righteous Choices at the Crossroads of Life” by Robert D. Hales, 1988.

Eagle Mountain city is one of the fastest growing cities in the state. In 2019, Eagle Mountain issued over 1,500 building permits, with about 1,000 being new residential and 30 commercial. The city’s current population estimate is 40,000, with an expectation of reaching 50,000 in a few more years. It is a critical time for sound decision-making as Eagle Mountain transitions from a suburban outpost to the home of Fortune 100 companies.

After completing a four-year term on the City Council and now in the second year of my term as mayor, I’ve experienced the challenges of making decisions in a rapidly changing young city with so much to address and differing opinions about what the future looks like. Through this experience I’ve seen parallels of how principles that help us to be successful in our personal lives also apply to guiding the direction of the city.

One of the most important elements in making good decisions is to have a plan. Eagle Mountain commemorates our 23rd anniversary of incorporation on Dec. 6. In these early stages of the city’s development it is critical to have a detailed, long-term plan of 20 to 50 years, with goals that we are committed to achieve. With those goals in mind, decisions should be studied out and carefully considered. Part of that consideration includes examining our motives. Are we doing what is popular and expedient or what is best for the city?

The danger of making decisions solely in response to the loudest voices is demonstrated in an Aesop Fable, “The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey.”

“The objective of a man and his son was to journey to the city marketplace and sell a donkey in exchange for winter provisions. As they started to town, the father rode the donkey. In the first village, the villagers said, ‘What an inconsiderate man, riding the donkey and making his son walk!’ So the father got off the donkey and let his son ride. In the next hamlet, the people whispered, ‘What an inconsiderate boy, riding the donkey and making his father walk!’ In frustration, the father climbed on the donkey; and father and son rode the donkey, only to have the people in the next town declare, ‘How inconsiderate of the man and the boy to overload their beast of burden and treat him in such an inhumane manner!’

“In compliance with the dissident voices and mocking fingers, the father and son both got off the donkey to relieve the animal’s burden, only to have the next group of onlookers say, ‘Can you imagine a man and a boy being so stupid as to not even use their beast of burden for what it was created!’ Then, in anger and total desperation, having tried to please all those who offered advice, the father and son both rode the donkey until it collapsed. The donkey had to be carried to the marketplace. The donkey could not be sold. The people in the marketplace scoffed, ‘Who wants a worthless donkey that can’t even walk into the city!’ The father and son had failed in their goal of selling the donkey and had no money to buy the winter provisions they needed in order to survive.

“How much different the outcome would have been if the father and son had a plan to follow. Father could have said, ‘I’ll ride the donkey one-third of the way; Son, you ride the donkey one-third of the way; and we’ll both walk the last third of the way. The donkey will arrive at the marketplace fresh and strong, ready to be sold.’ Then, as they received confusing advice while traveling through each hamlet and village along their way to the city, they could look at each other, give a reassuring wink of the eye, and say, ‘We have a plan.’”

Social media is an example of a wonderful communication tool that helps government officials and organizations to receive immediate feedback from constituents and better understand any questions or concerns they may have. However, with an ever-present chorus of voices it can be difficult to avoid being swayed by the most aggressive or most frequent commenters. It is the mark of a good leader to do what is best for the city, not what is politically expedient or motivated by self-interests. Then once a decision is made, we must own the consequences that follow. Some decisions may be years in the making, though to others they appear as quick. Preparation and focus will help us seize upon opportunities when the timing is right.

It is an exciting time for Eagle Mountain. Looking back on 2019 much has been accomplished, including major transportation improvements, a second Fortune 100 company locating in the city — Tyson Fresh Meats, and the establishment of the Eagle Mountain Chamber of Commerce, which is flourishing with 73 members based in Eagle Mountain, Saratoga Springs, Lehi, American Fork and Orem and a variety of business types. Our budget visioning process begins in January and we look forward to that goal setting time and the decisions that lie ahead.