Ray deWolfe's journey to city council
Feb 01, 2018 08:08AM ● Published by Holly Vasic
Council member Ray deWolfe sitting in his previous planning commission seat. (Courtesy of Ray deWolfe)
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Ray deWolfe, 29, is the new Councilmember At-Large for South Salt Lake and is looking forward to doing a good job for the city. His interest in politics occurred in a roundabout way, and he never expected his career in local government to take off so quickly.
deWolfe grew up in Midvale, graduated from Hillcrest High School in 2006, and attended Southern Utah University. While there, he explored different broadcasting fields, including in radio and at the college TV station. He also worked in the field off campus doing the weekend weather for a St. George TV station. When he graduated in 2010, deWolfe hoped to continue his career in broadcasting, but things didn’t work out. After working as a camp counselor on the East Coast, he packed his bags and headed to Australia. He lived there for about a year and when he returned home he looked for jobs. He currently works for Mountain America Credit Union.
In 2014, he happened to move next door to a council member at the time, Debbie Snow, in South Salt Lake and his interest in local government sparked. deWolfe had always been curious about national politics at a young age. He recalls his dad constantly absorbing news via TV and radio which began his intrigue. Due to Snow being his neighbor, his curiosity changed.
“My politics kind of narrowed from more of a national level into a local level at that point and I started getting a lot more interested in the city and following it.”
deWolfe spent time watching council meetings online and updating himself on what was happening through the meeting minutes.
After a short time moving back to Midvale with his mom to save up for a home, deWolfe and his girlfriend, Megan Welsh, returned to South Salt Lake and purchased the house they were saving for. deWolfe knew he wanted to be involved in the city and Welsh helped open that door for him at an event where she met Mayor Cherie Wood. A lunch meeting with Wood in winter of 2016 eventually materialized into a seat for deWolfe on the city’s planning commission the following spring.
“That’s really how I got my jump into South Salt Lake,” he said.
deWolfe was enjoying his time on the planning commission, but when Johnny McConnell decided not to run for city council for another term, beginning in 2018, deWolfe was encouraged to give it a shot.
“The mayor was the one that asked if I would be interested in running. I think she was alluding that I would do a good job,” deWolfe recalled. He and his girlfriend spent the weekend debating if they were prepared for the time commitment. In the end, deWolfe decided to go for it.
Considering deWolfe had never done this before, Wood set up a meeting with Grass Roots Utah who helped him get started in what he calls “campaigning 101,” which included helping him set up a website.
deWolfe said the biggest help was going door-to-door with Wood. “We would just go out on a lot of Saturdays together and just knock on doors. I got a lot of direction and help but a lot of the nitty gritty stuff we did on our own” deWolfe said. Welch also joined him knocking on doors and deWolfe recalls constantly being asked about their relationship. “We’ve been together for over five years and that was one of the number one questions, or things that we got, is if we’re married and we’re not.” deWolfe admits they have discussed it quite a bit but it just hasn’t happened yet, they’ve been busy traveling, buying a home together, and now working on city council.
After the primaries, the seat was down to deWolfe and Aaron Frost, both Democratic delegates for the same district. deWolfe set his competitiveness aside. “I try to keep it really friendly, there was like no animosity between us, you know, we had talked to each other several times,” deWolfe said, even letting the other know they were planning on running.
One of deWolfe’s favorite things about South Salt Lake is what he described as its spirit. “That sounds a little cheesy but this is one of these cities where it feels like a small city even though we are next to big Salt Lake,” he said. He loves the community he has experienced through city events as well as residents and government officials coming together during the homeless shelter selection. deWolfe is excited to learn more about South Salt Lake’s Promise program; Welsh is currently applying to be a tutor for the program.
deWolfe does not have any big goals to accomplish during his time as a council member, he just wants to work hard and do a good job for the city he lives in. He and his girlfriend look forward to future involvement in South Salt Lake and everything it offers.