Hales to the chief! Brett Hales sworn in as Murray mayorFeb 07, 2022 02:05PM ● By Shaun Delliskave
Mayor Brett Hales takes the oath of office from City Recorder Brooke Smith. (Photo courtesy Murray City)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
Mayor Brett Hales says his wife chastises him for making his life such an open book. However, the new mayor says there are two things he wants Murray residents to understand: foremost, his book is always open, and residents will be heard. Hales was sworn in as the 25th elected mayor of Murray on Jan. 4.
Hales engaged in more face-to-face interactions during his campaign versus pushing an issue or trumpeting slogans. According to him, he ran for mayor to give back to the community he has lived in for the last 33 years.
“I just want to bring the city together,” Hales said. “It sounds so silly and unimportant, to be kind and create respect. I had a state senator come up to me and ask me what my platform was, and I said I just wanted to give back to Murray. And he said, ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’ So, I left that thinking I needed to come up with something. And I caught myself thinking that I needed to make something up. So, I met with some people, and they would say, ‘Why don’t you have this and why don’t you have that?’ and I said, ‘That is just the way I am.’”
However, Hales has no intention of maintaining the status quo. Instead, he wants to make definite changes starting with the mayor’s office.
“If I wanted to see anything change, it would be that the city council and the administration would be able to work together; before, we weren’t communicating with the administration. There was a division. I understand that we are separate, but in a city like Murray, we should be working together more.
“There was no communication going on between the mayor’s office and the council. There were no weekly meetings like we used to do. I am not putting any blame on the administration or the council. It was both of us,” Hales said.
Hales served on the city council, being first elected in 2012. Before that, he was Vice President of Cyprus Credit Union. He left that job to run for the council and because he was affected with multiple sclerosis.
With MS, Hales suffers from nerve damage that disrupts communication between his brain and body. During his first years in office, Hales needed the assistance of a wheelchair to get around city hall. Later, to control the MS tremors, Hales would travel to Colorado to be treated with medical cannabis. As it markedly improved his condition, he was a vocal advocate for Utah to prescribe it. Still, Hales must manage the chronic disease daily.
“By being careful. I will do what my body says, as in taking a lunch, take a break here, calm down a little bit. If I do that, then I am fine. I am still using medicinal cannabis,” Hales said.
As mayor, he will have plenty to try to keep calm about. The city’s major project, the “48th & State” development, would transform downtown Murray. The city is processing public feedback it received last year from an open house. Hales has concerns about the initial plans.
“I don’t like the idea that it is high density,” Hales said. “I don’t think the residents felt that they were being heard, and that is important. The density is huge for these residents; they don’t want that, so I would like to do something quaint with eateries. It will be three or four stories, whatever, but not six or seven stories.”
Not only is mixed-use development a concern in downtown Murray, but throughout the city. With so many proposals hitting the city last year, the city council instituted a moratorium to tweak city zoning. However, Hales is still not a fan of it.
“I am not really for mixed-use. I hear mixed-use, where we have shops at the bottom and housing on top, and you will see them empty…That started 12 years ago, and it seems like I am hearing more interest in separating those. Where you have housing, and you have businesses (similar to Holladay Village or Murray Square being built on 900 East) rather than mixing them,” Hales said.
In the meantime, he is most excited about the remodel of the Murray Theater. “We got the 3.6 million back from the county. We have about 2 million, and then possible legislature funding. I feel really good about it,” he said. “The biggest concern is its operations. It might take only a year (to complete).”
Murray City will handle the programming for the theater, so what should Murrayites expect?
“I would like to see it be like the Egyptian Theatre up at Park City. I would love to see David Archuleta as our first concert, as he worked at the Murray Amphitheater, so that would be fun,” Hales said.