Get to Know Your City Council Candidates
Aug 04, 2015 09:19AM
By Bryan Scott
By Scott Bartlett
It’s an election year for the Murray City Council, and five Murray residents have declared their candidacy for three available spots.
Up for election this year are the council seats for Districts 1, 3 and 5. Districts 2 and 4, along with the mayor’s post, will be up for election in 2017. Councilmembers serve four-year terms.
Because there are no more than two candidates for each council seat, there will be no August primary. Voting will take place in this year’s November general election. This is the first year that Murray will conduct voting by mail. All registered voters will receive a ballot at their address on file. At least one polling station will be available at City Hall.
In District 1, Dave Nicponski is seeking his second term on the council. Nicponski is a 20-year resident of Murray, who has enjoyed both the residential and business aspects of life in Murray. He sees future business development as one of the biggest challenges the city faces moving forward.
In reflecting on his service to date and considering the council’s best accomplishment in that time, Nicponski cites “bringing together and negotiating understanding and agreement among homeowners that were impacted by the canal flood and canal company.”
Nicponski wants to continue to be on the council as a matter of public service, and would put budget and policy as his priorities. He believes a councilmember should understand his constituents, then develop the community without negative impact to residential areas.
“I am truly committed to protecting and responsibly growing Murray City,” said Nicponski. He asks for people to vote for him based on his commitment and track record, which includes a balanced budget and no property tax increase.
Challenging Nicponski in District 1 is Tiffany Doncouse. She and her family moved to Murray almost three years ago. She is currently serving as the legislative chair in House District 35.
“I like the central location of our beautiful city, but more than location, I love the people of Murray. People in Murray care and feel more invested in the community than anywhere else I have lived,” said Doncouse.
Doncouse views Murray’s biggest challenge as increasing and maintaining economic development, including policy decisions that are beneficial to current and future generations of Murray residents.
Doncouse finds great accomplishment and satisfaction in raising her four children in Murray. She feels a stronger support system is needed to meet the challenges of raising children, especially those with special needs. For that reason, she founded Kids in Mind, a network that brings awareness, support and a collaborative voice to mental health issues in children.
A desire to serve the community and have a meaningful impact on the local level drives Doncouse to seek a spot on the council. She would work to ensure that first responders were trained to more easily identify and handle mental health issues. She also wants to provide safe walking and biking opportunities to parks, libraries and schools.
“People should vote for me because I am a tireless advocate,” said Doncouse. “I believe in an engaging and transparent city government that is for the people, by the people. I care about people and I believe that collectively we can affect positive change.”
In District 3, Jim Brass is the sole candidate for the available council seat. The new term will be his fourth. He and his family have lived in Murray for about 30 years and have enjoyed the sense of community.
“It’s really not a small town, but it’s got that feel,” said Brass. “It feels like a small, tight community.”
Downtown revitalization and infrastructure, particularly roads, are what Brass sees as Murray’s biggest challenges. Those two issues will be his priorities in his next term.
“You get one shot at something that’s going to be there for 50 to 100 years,” said Brass, referring to the need to improve Murray’s downtown.
When reflecting on past successes on the council, Brass recalls the difficult decisions brought about by the recent recession.
“When the economy nosedived in 2008, we were able to maintain services; we didn’t have to lay off any people,” said Brass. “We could keep things going without raising property tax. The council and the city and our employees stepped up and we made the cuts we needed to ride this thing through, and now we’re back in really good financial shape.”
Brass wants to continue to be on the council as a way of giving back to a city that has been kind to him, going all the way back to when he began operating a business in Murray before moving here.
Brass believes that a councilmember’s most important responsibilities are to provide for the health, safety and welfare of city residents. This includes providing the services they need, providing a high quality of service and spending responsibly.
Experience is what Brass feels most qualifies him to serve on the council. Murray provides its own police, fire, water, sewer and power services, and Brass has background in many of those areas, particularly power.
In District 5, Brett Hales is seeking his second term on the council. He has lived with his family in Murray for about 27 years, and appreciates the closeness of community he finds here.
Hales sees Utopia, the much-maligned fiber optic system, as Murray’s biggest challenge. He feels that the city has given enough money to the project and wants to find a way to remove the burden from Murray residents.
During his service to date, Hales is most pleased with having kept finances in check, keeping taxes low, and working within the city budget. Keeping things in budget would continue to be one of his priorities.
Hales has thoroughly enjoyed his first term on the council and the progress of the city. He feels that there is a very transparent relationship between the council and city administration, and also enjoys working with individual residents.
Hales believes a councilmember’s most important responsibility is honesty, and to promote trust between the council and city residents.
“They voted for me to be their voice, and not for me to throw my own opinion in,” said Hales.
His track record is what Hales believes most qualifies him to continue to be on the council.
“If you’ve liked the last four years, and that we’ve kept taxes low and have been responsible with finances, and you’re seeing improvement, and you want to have somebody you can trust and someone that’s transparent, then vote for me,” said Hales.
Challenging Hales in District 5 is Hal Johnson. At press time, Johnson could not be reached for comment.
What issues are most important to you when voting for a city council member? What questions would you like the candidates to answer? Send your ideas to [email protected].