SALT LAKE CITY — Darin Mano became the first Asian American elected to the Salt Lake City Council on Nov. 2.
Mano was already serving on the council, having been appointed in January 2020 to fill the vacancy left by Mayor Erin Mendenhall in District 5.
“‘It was a team effort’ doesn’t begin to describe the support I received to make this happen,” Mano said in a Facebook post. “It took an army of people and I couldn’t be more grateful for your help. I’m excited to serve for another four years and continue to make District 5 a thriving part of this great city. Thanks again.
“Thanks to the Utah Pride Center for allowing us to rent and pay for their space for our Election Night party. They are a 501c3 and don’t endorse political candidates, but it was important to both Councilmember Chris Wharton and I to support the center and their life-saving services. Please visit utahpridecenter.org and make a donation today.
“Thank you District 5 for your vote!”
Mano finished ahead of four other candidates in the district: George Chapman, a retired engineer and a regular at council meetings; Vance Hansen, who has worked in security; Amy Hawkins, who leads the Ballpark Community Council and teaches at the University of Utah medical school; and Sarah Reale, who works in marketing at Salt Lake College.
District 5 includes the Ballpark, Central Ninth, Liberty Wells and East Liberty Park neighborhoods. Elections were also held in Districts 1, 2, 3 and 7.
The Advocate mentioned Mano in a Nov. 4 article that noted, “With more than 80 out LGBTQ+ candidates winning elections Tuesday, when they are sworn in, for the first time there will be more than 1,000 out elected officials in the U.S.”
The article said, “Darin Mano became the first Asian American out LGBTQ+ person elected to the Salt Lake City Council and Alejandro Puy became the first Latinx out LGBTQ+ person elected to the body; both are gay men, and now four of the six members of the council are from the LGBTQ+ community, out of six LGBTQ+ elected officials in Utah overall.”
Wharton and Amy Fowler, who were re-elected, are both LGBTQ.
“This election marks a historic moment for the City Council,” Mano remarked. “For the first time we have a majority minority governing body. I’m so proud to be part of this in two ways. Salt Lake City has long been a safe haven for sexual and ethnic minorities. It means so much that our council has lived experiences that match our diverse residents. And, for the record, I love working with Dan Dugan and am glad he is our ‘token straight white man’ on the council.
Two of the winners, Puy and Victoria Petro-Eschler, are Latino. They will join Ana Valdemoros, who became the first minority to win a council race two years ago. Including Mano, four of the council’s seven members will be people of color.
Mano said in a statement on his campaign website that when he joined the council last year, “I could not have predicted the tumultuous year that was ahead of me. Though 2020 was full of surprises including the pandemic, an earthquake, and a nationwide call for racial equity in policing, I was honored to serve aside Mayor Mendenhall and my fellow Salt Lake City councilmembers.
“As an architect, an educator, a small business owner, and a minority, I have a diverse set of skills and perspectives that help me as I serve my community. I understand the importance of urban planning, economic development, developing relationships, and meaningful engagement with my community. My role as a city councilmember is to be a representative for my district and the people I serve. My goal is to be connected to my community, push for important positive changes, and make decisions that will benefit my district and the city as a whole.”
In addition to Mendenhall, Wharton, Dugan and Valdemoros, Mano’s endorsers included Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, former Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, former Rep. Ben McAdams, State Sen. Derek Kitchen, Equality Utah, 02 Utah, LGBTQ Victory Fund, Black Democratic Caucus, and Utah Democratic Party AAPI Caucus.
According to his website, Mano was born in Utah on the younger end of a large family. His family was displaced from California by the uprooting of Japanese Americans during World War II and found a safe community in Utah. He is a nephew of Floyd Mori, former national executive director of the JACL, former president/CEO at Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), and former California assemblymember.
Aside from living in Japan for two years and Boston for 3.5, Mano has spent his entire life in Salt Lake County. He fled the suburbs as soon as possible and has lived in Salt Lake City since college.
In 2015, Mano purchased a home in the Ballpark neighborhood, where he lives today. Previously, he lived in the East Central and Sugarhouse neighborhoods. He is a practicing architect and has a background in psychology and urban design.
Mano graduated from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design with a Masters of Architecture degree. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah, earning dual degrees. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelors of Science in architectural studies from the College of Architecture + Planning and magna cum laude with a Bachelors in Psychology from the College of Social & Behavioral Science. He was a Jordan Beetdigger in high school and a Churchill Charger in junior high school.
Mano owns and operates Raw Design Studio, a Salt Lake architecture firm he co-founded in 2012. The firm has completed several projects, including medical, office, retail, multi-family, educational, and single family residential buildings. He is a licensed architect in the state of Utah and a member of the American Institute of Architects. From 2013-2019, Mano taught architecture and urban design courses at the University of Utah.
Prior to his career in architecture, he held jobs in construction, food service, public health, retail, juvenile justice, recreation, and library services.
Prior to the City Council, Mano served on the Salt Lake City Planning Commission (2019-2020), Salt Lake City Redevelopment Advisory Committee (2017-2019), Ballpark Community Council Board (2016-2020), as chair of the Utah Young Architects Forum within the AIA (2016-2017), on the Board of Directors of the Harvard Alumni Association of Utah (2015-present), and as a volunteer emcee and board member of the Nihon Matsuri Japan Festival (2013-present).
Mano lives with his partner Kevin, their four kids, and their dog Bucky.
According to the website, “Growing up, Darin was the nerdy kid picked last at recess. In high school he was the closeted gay kid but he learned how to be social and make friends. At the University of Utah he was an overachiever but at Harvard he was perfectly average. As a faculty member he was the overdressed one. At the office he thinks out loud and forgets about his coffee. He’s too competitive when playing board games, loves doing crafts with his kids, gets ornery when he needs a snack, and thinks 10 p.m. is a great time to call it a night.
“Darin loves to travel, ski and snowboard, camp, climb rocks, try new restaurants, spend time with family, and make new friends. On the City Council Darin is a team player, honest when he disagrees, and finds common ground and builds consensus. Darin genuinely cares about the city he serves and the people who make it great.”
During the campaign, a Utah state attorney angry about being awakened from a nap apologized for sending an expletive-laden email to Mano.
Assistant Utah Attorney General Steven Wuthrich told Mano he hated him and his family, then threatened to “do everything in my power to see you will never get elected to any office higher than dog catcher.”
He sent the email after Mano knocked on his door looking for someone else living there who is a registered voter, either Wuthrich’s wife or roommate, Mano told The Salt Lake Tribune.
He told Fox13-KSTU he was shocked and disturbed by Wuthrich’s message. “It was hard not to wonder why that email was so particularly aggressive.”
Wuthrich apologized in a statement, saying he regretted the “ferocity and language” of the email and did not wish any harm to Mano or his family.