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Republican Rep. Mike McKell, Utah’s District 66

Married to Brandi Cox McKell and parents of 4 children

BA Southern Utah University

JD University of Idaho

Rep. Mike McKell began his public service to Utah’s District 66 on January 1, 2013 and was recently re-elected to a seventh term with 85-percent of the vote. In the summer and fall of 2018 he saw thousands of his constituents evacuated from their homes by wildfires that even scorched nearby 11,929 foot Mt. Nebo upon which McKell had recently, before the fires, summited in a 3 hour and 51 minute run. – In September of this year (2018) you could watch from your balcony here at your home in Spanish Fork as wildfires were bearing down on the homes of thousands of the people you represent. In fact, there was a point where even your own neighborhood was put on warning to possibly evacuate.

Rep. McKell – Yes. And my wish and hope is in some way I can reflect the goodness of the people here. My vision of what Utah County is — was what I saw in the face of Mayor Wendy Pray of Woodland Hills as she stood along the road out of town, waving at her citizens as they drove past being evacuated because of the fires.

The fire was bearing down on her home just up the road. All she worried about was making sure her friends and neighbors were out of harms way before worrying about herself and her own home. That is the face of this community I’m proud to be part of.

Note – Even though the fires burned more than 100,000 acres of forest and thousands were out of their homes, many for almost two weeks; not a single home was lost in the Coal Hollow, Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires. – Lets get to your public service in a minute. What’s this about you headed to Iceland this summer to run, not in a 50 yard dash, not in a regular 26 mile marathon, but a 55 kilometer (34.175 miles) ultra marathon?

Rep. McKell – I am. Even have the flight booked already. Spanish Fork (The largest city in McKell’s district at approximately 42,000 people.) has a sister city in Iceland and I plan on reaching out. I might even reach out to the President of Iceland. – Why Iceland and why an ULTRA marathon?

Rep. McKell – You already know Spanish Fork is the home to the largest mass migration from Iceland in the late 1800’s when 400 people from one island came here. And the (Struggles and chuckles as he attempts to pronounce.) Laugavegurinn Ultra Marathon typically takes 4 days, is in the country’s highlands and looks beautiful.

It’s part of my 2019 goals along with qualifying for the New York and Boston marathons too. In Iceland my goal, besides finishing, is to finish among the top five fastest Americans. – What does your wife think about all of this?

Rep. McKell – She loves it. We go out of our way to do hard things. We met in Delta (Utah). She was a runner for North Sanpete (Fairview, Utah) and I ran for Emery High School (Fermin, Utah). Guess running is my mid-life crisis. – You seem to have a thing for islands because somewhere in our talking I heard you mention something about Cape Verde, Portugal.

Rep. McKell – I did and going there in 2019 is a goal too; and I’m going to find somewhere there to run. I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Portugal and spent most of it on Cape Verde. They have the most incredible food there. One dish called Peri Peri Chicken and Caldo Verde, Green Soup. – Speaking of food. Are you a hamburger or cheeseburger kind of guy?

Rep. McKell – Neither. I’m a salmon and salad kind of person. – So that answers my next question about pickles or no pickles…

Rep. McKell – I won’t do pickles but I will eat cucumbers. – What book might we find on your desk or nightstand?

Rep. McKell – You wouldn’t find one. I like to do audiobooks I can listen as I run or drive between here and Salt Lake going to the capital. Right now I’m listening to Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor. She was an Olympian in Greece and won the bronze medal for the women’s marathon.

Just finished THEM – Why We Hate Each Other by Ben Sasse. I read one you should read that is incredible. It’s called Shoe Dog – a memoir by Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight.

This past year I listened to From Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, by Jim C. Collins. At our law office we abide by two things. First, become more efficient. And two, better serve our clients. Those are the only two things we discuss in our staff meetings. – Why public service?

Rep. McKell – Came to a point in my life when I felt there was something to contribute. I’m a pragmatic conservative who believes we live in a time when we need good people more than ever. Fewer grenades and more solutions.

Now is a time to learn and grow, be less radical and listen and learn. I don’t have Facebook on my phone or iPad. It’s not real. Puts you in a silo. I want to have the real world in front of me. I have a family and I want them in front of me! – I see you have a new assignment in the upcoming 2019 legislative session?

Rep. McKell – Yes, Higher Education Appropriations. I’m the chairman and realize as we go into this age of artificial intelligence we are going to need a strategic vision for higher ed. It’s an honor to serve the people here in 66, who I hope will vote me out if they begin to see me not being true to myself. I believe voters appreciate those who are authentic.

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