Shortly after Alta became a town, John Guldner left the banks of the Mississippi in Iowa to seek a home in the west. A friend introduced him to Alta’s mayor, Bill Levitt who was looking for an assistant. John flew out for an interview with Bill on the premise that if he was hired he would be reimbursed for the flight. If not, then at least he would have a week at the Alta Lodge. John flew out and spent a week going to Council of Government and Governor’s Advisory Committee meetings among others while driving around in Bill’s personal vehicle. At some point that week while sitting in the car, Mayor Levitt looked at John and said that with his long hair, beard, and backpack, he would fit in nicely and offered him the job. John said he would be elated to accept the position and would stay as long as Bill was mayor, little did he know at the time that Bill would be the longest serving elected official in state’s history.
Over the years, John evolved into the mayor’s unofficial chief of staff and later the official town administrator. John became the go-to guy for all town matters. Anytime, anyone had a question about what had happened in the past, or what the rules were, or whatever… John was there to answer them, day or night. The former Alta Ski Lifts General Manager Onno Wieringa described John as a walking encyclopedia.
As Town Administrator, John stewarded and implemented the Town of Alta General Plan, a document that has shaped our community since the 1980’s. John has thoughtfully managed commercial and residential development for the past several decades. John has been crucial in environmental stewardship and watershed protection, guiding Alta to be the unique and wonderful place that it is today.
As one of Utah’s longest serving municipal administrators, John has overseen the growth of a stable and financially efficient local government in a unique and challenging environment by focusing on providing essential public services and responsiveness to constituent input. He is known and respected throughout our region—when Alta is mentioned in local government circles, people think John Guldner. Elected officials come and go, but John has been the lynch pin that has held our town together for over four decades.
Over time, the world changes and John has decided that his role with our town is about to change too. He plans to depart from his position as Town Administrator in April, and although we hope to continue working together in a more limited capacity, we won’t have him available to do his magic on a full-time basis. Thankfully, John leaves the Town in a strong position to continue to provide quality municipal services to our community in the future.
Along with John, our town is evolving into an era where our primary industry, our visitation, and our natural environment are changing, often in unforeseen ways. While John’s shoes will never be filled, our government will go on, with some new faces and some old, but always dedicated to the preservation of values that have made Alta the wonderful place that it is.
Alta would not be what it is today had John Guldner not been a part of our town. On behalf of Alta’s community, past, present, and future, I want to thank John for all his leadership and care for Alta.
- Mayor Roger Bourke