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Murray Journal

Voters end Murray’s longest-serving city councilman’s term

Sep 23, 2019 12:12PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Jim Brass made two runs for the mayor’s office while serving as a city councilman. (Photo Wikipedia Commons)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

During Murray’s anti-incumbent fervor over the past year, many elected officials had more significant reason to worry. Unfortunately for Jim Brass, he was the most incumbent of all the candidates, with 16 years on the Murray City Council. Brass’s bid to continue serving as Murray’s longest-serving city councilman was thwarted in the Aug. 13 primary election, by a mere 10 votes.

“Right now, it is a difficult time to be in politics. People are frustrated with the way Washington is behaving, and we are a convenient place to vent those frustrations,” Brass said. “I can very much understand that feeling.”

Before his four terms on the city council, Brass served on the city planning commission. During contentious zoning hearings in city council meetings, Brass would frequently refer to his experience as a planning commissioner and explain the pros and cons of the ordinance from zoning issues in city history.

“The hardest part of being on the council is making the ‘tough decisions.’ Eventually, you will be called on to make a decision that is contrary to what your constituents want, but that is required by federal or state law. One example is rehabilitation facilities. Nobody wants them, but they are legal in all zones. Our hands are tied, but we are the ones who take the heat for allowing them,” Brass said.

Brass’s district has been the bullseye for many new city redevelopment projects. His area encompasses downtown Murray, which is where the new city hall will be built and where a new firehouse is already under construction. Along with developments have come protests over historic buildings, many that reside within his district.

Notably, the former Mount Vernon campus in Brass’s district constitutes several century-old buildings. Brass was stuck between weighing the rights of the property owner, who was planning to tear them down, and the desires of preservationists, who believed that the city’s ordinances required protection. Eventually, a lawsuit settled that question in favor of the preservationists, but that also may have cost Brass votes this election cycle.

Brass hangs his hat on being able to help businesses and neighborhoods coexist, especially when it comes to pushing the Residential Neighborhood Business (RNB) ordinance. “When Winchester Street, 900 East, and West 5400 South became busy thoroughfares, the homes on those streets became less desirable to use as residences. We were under pressure to rezone to commercial. That would have had a negative impact on the residential neighborhoods behind these properties,” Brass said. “RNB limited height and required a residential look to the building, if constructing new. It also permitted the existing homes to be converted to business use. It was a good compromise that has worked well.”

Still, some development decisions that seemed to make a lot of sense did not turn out as planned. “I would have put more parking in the Fireclay area. We, like other cities, listened to the growth experts who told us that transit-oriented developments did not need as much parking. They argued that people would use transit instead of their cars. Once Fireclay came online, we learned that was way off the mark.”

Even though the election has been determined, Brass has indicated that he will continue to strive to serve Murray. Besides running for city council, Brass has made two election bids for mayor but failed to make it out of the primary election.

“I think, by and large, Murray is headed in the right direction. Intermountain Medical Center has attracted many new facilities in the city, as we knew it would. The big issue going forward is how best to manage that growth. The one thing that we are in the process of doing is getting a comprehensive traffic study finished,” Brass said. “This study is intended to tell us if our roads and intersections can handle the load we can expect from additional growth/density. My concern is intersection failure in the downtown area. Doing this study is the right step going forward in order to make the right decisions on how we finish downtown.”

Rosalba Dominguez and Adam Thompson will vie for Brass’s District Three City Council seat in the Nov. 5 general election.