Two new faces at City HallMay 10, 2021 10:55AM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
Draper City has a new communications director and a new assistant city manager. One met George Clooney while working in Hollywood, and the other held a key transportation role for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games hosted by Salt Lake City.
Linda Peterson became Draper’s communications director after holding the same role for the city of Eagle Mountain for the last 15 years. Prior to being a communications director, she was a reporter for the Daily Herald, covering the communities of Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain.
“My degree is in communications with an emphasis in journalism and public relations. I’ve always enjoyed working with people and writing, and I’ve found over the years that those things lend themselves to working in communications and government. I worked my way through college as a police emergency dispatcher. That was my first exposure to working for government, and I really loved it,” Peterson said.
After graduating from California State University San Bernardino, Peterson worked for Paramount Pictures in publicity. “It was a fun time. I got to go to several awards shows including the Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes,” she said. Having always been a fan of movies and television, Peterson delighted in getting to see and meet celebrities. She described Clooney as “really nice” and has an especially fun story to share about Patrick Stewart. “I met him at a press junket for ‘Star Trek: First Contact’ at the same time I was doing press for ‘Beavis and Butt-head Do America’. He actually asked, in his Patrick Stewart voice, for a Beavis and Butt-head swag bag, saying that ‘he loved Beavis and Butt-head,’” Peterson said.
Seeking a break from the Hollywood scene, she worked for three years as an elementary teacher in East Lost Angeles. Then she moved to Utah and spent four years teaching at South Summit Elementary in Kamas. “I wanted to do something meaningful to me. I really enjoyed that time,” she said.
The city recruited Peterson for her new position. “We met and I immediately felt a good connection…it was interesting to me to start with a new community because I’d been with Eagle Mountain for so long. I was the first communications director for that city, so it was a new challenge to step into an existing position that they were looking to develop the role of further. I felt like I had the skills they were looking for...and I could jump in and take it in the direction they wanted to go,” she said.
One of Peterson’s first goals is to establish a text and email notification system residents can subscribe to. “I’d like to develop more tools where residents can easily access information from the city and get updates on what the government is working on, and other fun events, so the community can come together. Especially after the pandemic year, I think everyone is looking to reconnect.”
Peterson replaced Britnee Johnston who worked for the city for nearly one year before returning to a job with the state.
Bret Millburn, who admits having a reputation for being tenacious, began his job as assistant city manager in February. He grew up in Bountiful, has lived in Centerville for more than 20 years, and is a graduate of Weber State University. “I’ve been blessed to have quite a variety of career opportunities,” he said.
When Millburn was a college senior in 1993, he met Tom Welch at a speaking engagement hosted by Weber State. Welch was leading the bid process to bring the Olympics to Utah, and Millburn approached him and asked how he could get involved. Welch introduced him to another man who worked in the bid office. “I spent a number of months calling the bid office, stopping by the bid office, not making any connections. One day, trying again, I was walking through the parking structure and crossed paths with the gentleman that I’d been trying to reach. He invited me to hop in the car to go with him to a meeting. He said I was the most tenacious individual he’d ever met and asked if I’d like to volunteer for the bid effort, so I did…from late 1993 until the games were awarded to Salt Lake City in June 1995. I was hired on staff, about number 10 of the employees of the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee. Then all kinds of doors opened and I’ve had an interesting ride ever since.”
Millburn’s volunteerism with the Olympic bid process led to interactions with federal, state and local government officials. That resulted in him serving as an assistant to the speaker of the house in the 2000 Utah legislative session after which he was offered a position to return to Olympic organizing to oversee the transportation system for athletes and officials.
“That involved developing a transportation system to move 30,000-plus people 24/7 for about 30 days and we did so with all volunteer drivers, the first time it was ever done with strictly volunteers. Transportation has often been known as the Achilles’ heel of the Olympics, but all transportation systems were phenomenal during the 2002 games,” he said.
More recently, he served three terms (12 years) as Davis County commissioner, ending in 2019. Since then, he’s been doing consulting work in economic development and government relations. Draper Mayor Troy Walker worked with Millburn in the past when they both served on UTA’s Board of Trustees. Walker described Millburn as an outstanding person. “I’ve worked with him for a number of years. He’s very adept at road funding, risk management…all those things we need. We’re excited to have him,” Walker said.
Millburn replaced longtime Draper City employee and National Guard member Russell Fox, who had several deployments in his time with the city. Fox left to pursue an active-duty opportunity with the National Guard.