Ted Wilson served as the 30th mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, serving from 1976 until July 1985.He was the last mayor of Salt Lake City’s five-member commission government and became the first mayor when it morphed into a strong mayor/council structure. The change came during a scandal, dubbed Citygate, where commissioners attempted to usurp power from the mayor's office. Wilson resigned during his third term in order to become the director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. He held an adjunct assistant professorship of political science. He retired in September 2003 and is a emeritus professor of political science.
Wilson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born on May 18, 1939, in Salt Lake City. He earned a bachelor of science degree in political science from the University of Utah, a master’s degree in education from the University of Washington, and an honorary doctorate of laws from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.
In addition to teaching economics at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City for seven years, he worked as a mountaineering park ranger in the Grant Teton National Park during the summers of 1966 to 1969, served in the Utah Army National Guard from 1957 to 1963, and activated to full-time status during the Berlin Crises. He was an instructor at the Leysin American School in Leysin, Switzerland for one year.
U.S. Congressman Wayne Owens appointed Wilson as his chief of staff in March 1973. In April 1975 he was appointed to direct the Department of Social Services in Salt Lake County. Beyond his service as mayor, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1982 against Republican Orrin Hatch.He was the Democratic candidate for Utah’s governor in 1991 but lost against the Republican Norman Bangerter. Wilson was selected by the Harvard University John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics as an institute fellow during the Autumn Semester.
Wilson is a mountaineer and received the Interior Valor award for a mountain rescue on the North Face of the Grand Teton in 1967. In 2012, his daughter, Jenny Wilson, who is mayor of Salt Lake County, made a documentary of the rescue. It played on more than 100 PBS stations.
As an environmentalist, he served as executive director of the Utah Rivers Council and fought to protect 165 miles of the Virgin River as a Wild and Scenic River. He also defended the right of anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts to have access to waterways flowing through private property. Governor Gary R. Herbert appointed Wilson as his environmental adviser in 2009. He was director of UCAIR, which is now a private nonprofit.
He and his first wife, Kathryn Carling, are the parents of five children. He is married to Salt Lake Tribune columnist Holly Mullen and is stepfather to her two children.