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Murray Journal

Markham begins stint on city council

Feb 03, 2023 10:30AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Phil Markham takes his seat on the Murray City Council. (Photo courtesy of Murray City)

He lost an election to the city council by just six votes to Dave Nicponski in 2010, but now Phil Markham has been appointed to that seat in 2023. At a Dec. 12 special Murray City Council meeting, the council selected Markham to fill the District 1 City Councilor seat made vacant by outgoing council member Kat Martinez.

Markham was one of six applicants (nine had applied initially), including former city councilor Jeff Dredge, Roberto Paul Picket, Michael Richards, David Rodgers and Scot Woodbury. The applicants answered questions from the current city council, which then voted on two finalists.

The finalists, Markham and Richards, advanced through to a second round of voting. With the council’s vote split equally, Utah State law required the finalist to be drawn by lot. Recorder Brooke Smith ultimately pulled Markham’s name, and he was sworn into the council.

“I believe I have the necessary knowledge and judgment to make decisions that will maintain and even improve our quality of life in Murray City. I feel that I will be able to work with the other council members and the mayor’s office in order to come up with the best solution to the issues we face over the next 12 months,” Markham said. 

Well-acquainted with Murray, Markham worked for 35 years for Murray City, starting in the Parks Department and finishing as the Deputy Director of Public Works in 2007. He spent a brief time in the private sector working for Ace Recycling and Disposal and fully retired in 2022. 

As a University of Utah graduate, he served as the first chairman of the U of U College of Health advisory board. He and his wife, Jami, have two children, Alex and Bradee.

According to Markham, “I can bring a sensible, experienced approach to critical issues facing the city this year. I am willing to compromise when necessary, but I will not cave to pressure when dealing with difficult decisions.”

He served on the Murray City Planning and Zoning Commission and was involved in hearing proposals regarding hot topics issues of historical structures and downtown developments.

“Historical structures are very important to Murray. Not all old structures have historical value, and they should not stand in the way of progress,” Markham said.

Furthermore, Markham has a definite idea of how to proceed with the downtown area.

“We must come up with a united vision and plan for downtown. Murray has been talking about downtown since the mid-1970s. It is time to commit to a plan and move forward. I would love to see a mix of light commercial, restaurants and housing throughout the area,” Markham said.

Markham also expressed that he is not shy about mixed-use development within Murray. 

“Mixed-use development is a valuable and necessary component of growth when it is properly utilized. It is not right for every area in Murray, but it can have a positive effect in providing needed housing and associated commercial activity,” Markham said.

During the question portion of the city council special meeting, the council asked Markham to explain what he sees as top priorities for the city and why.

“The important things to me are maintaining the quality of life that is here and by the quality of life that encompasses a lot of things. It’s safety, the cleanliness of the neighborhoods…, it’s also protecting the business environment,” Markham said. “I believe that about 50% of the land mass in Murray City is nonprofit. That puts a huge burden on the other 50% that we generate tax revenue to provide the services that make Murray what it is, and that’s a big priority.

“I also think there needs to be some solid direction on downtown. We’ve spun our wheels forever on downtown. There needs to be a movement forward. Murray is getting lapped by surrounding communities; look at Midvale, South Salt Lake and Millcreek. They’re making progress in these areas.

Markham’s appointment will end in 2024 when the next election cycle occurs for District 1’s seat.