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Murray Journal

Murray City Council Executive Director Jan Lopez retires

Feb 18, 2021 01:46PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Jan Lopez retires after 13 years as Murray City Council Executive Director. (Photo courtesy of Jan Lopez)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Murray City Council Executive Director Jan Lopez, who has served the council for over a decade, announced plans to retire at the end of January. City Recorder Jennifer Kennedy will take her place.

“Jan has been the backbone of the council and is a very accomplished juggler,” City Councilor Diane Turner said. “She has been able to successfully juggle the schedules and needs of five part-time, independent council members, who often change every two years. She has done this with incredible insight, patience, grace and intelligence for 13 years. Her ability to interface with Murray citizens and troubleshoot their issues with care and compassion is most remarkable.”

Most people know Lopez for facilitating Murray City Council meetings, but she has a wide range of other duties: studying and researching issues, preparing council agendas and packets, following legislation, organizing special events, guiding council members, and completing Open and Public Meeting Act requirements to work with residents. 

“My job duties are extremely varied, which I love,” Lopez said. “I feel my greatest responsibility is to assist council members in exercising their authority, ensuring they are prepared for weighty decisions and helping them to be successful and effective in their positions of representing district constituents and acting in the best interests of the entire city overall.”

Originally from Dallas, Texas, and a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, Lopez moved to Utah in 1975. She married Roland Lopez, an accomplished guitarist, and opened a real estate office.

“My real estate experience has provided context for the land use issues the city council considers as part of their legislative powers. I spend hours reviewing packets and discussing options with city council members when various land-use requests come before them.”

Lopez began working in the Murray City Council office in 2007, when her real estate business began to decline due to the recession. Her good friend, Shannon Jacobs, needed someone to fill in when her assistant was on medical leave. Looking for a steady income, Lopez was excited to help her in the office. After Jacobs’ retirement, she worked closely with the next council director, becoming accomplished in the office’s responsibilities and gaining the experience to move into the director position when it opened again.

According to her, the most challenging part of the job is having enough time to accomplish all that needs to be done in the council office.

“You will often see my lights on past office hours, and I arrive early in the morning,” Lopez said.

City Councilor Dale Cox concurs, “I will say she is one of the most professional people I have ever worked with. In this world of 9-to-5, she was available to us 24-7; she always gave sound advice and has an uncanny grasp of city codes and history.”

In late 2019, Lopez undertook a total rewrite of the training handbook for new city council members. It is a comprehensive manual that she hopes will be useful for years into the future. Additionally, with her retirement on the horizon, she put together an extensive binder of information for the new director, former City Recorder Jennifer Kennedy, to guide her as she becomes oriented to the position’s responsibilities.

“Her patience is astounding. She will be greatly missed, not only by the council but by the entire city of Murray,” Turner said.

Now with more free time in retirement, Lopez has a list of things she wants to do. 

“So many things have been on hold while a demanding job has taken priority in my life. I want to spend more time outside. I love to travel and am anxious to experience the diverse, beautiful, historic, quaint, and unique parts of our country and international sites in Europe and South America—once COVID-19 is under control and that is possible again,” Lopez said.