Oath of office remarks reflect personalities and perspectives of mayor and councilmembersJan 25, 2022 01:45PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
Mayor Troy Walker and councilmembers Mike Green and Tasha Lowery were re-elected to new four-year terms. They took the oath of office Jan. 3 at City Hall. (Photo courtesy Tasha Lowery)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
On the first Monday of the new year, Draper Mayor Troy Walker took the oath of office for the third time and councilmembers Mike Green and Tasha Lowery repeated the oath for the second time. All three spoke about dealing with life’s challenges in their remarks.
Green applied lessons he learned playing football at Utah State as lessons for life. “Teamwork is a form of trust. Football only cares about selfless play (for one player to make a touchdown, the rest of the team works to make that happen). That’s kind of the same thing as city council. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as the job gets done.” He referenced Aggie football coach Blake Anderson who has encouraged his team to “get one degree better every day.” Green credited that mindset for leading a typically underdog team to a conference championship and a bowl game victory and he encouraged everyone to adopt that same goal. “We’re going to do hard things together…as a team,” he said of the council.
Green said taking the oath was different this time. “I know the level of work and responsibility.” Four years ago, Green was the youngest to take the oath for Draper. That record is now held by Councilman Cal Roberts.
Green has learned that “citizen input is critical.” He laments when the council has to make a decision without public input, only to have people lash out in anger after a project is complete, prompting him to wonder where those people were when the decision was being made. “The more outreach we can have, the better decisions we can make. It’s hard because people aren’t as engaged sometimes and I need to figure out how to get people more involved.”
His profession as an attorney influences his conduct on the council. “All of my decisions are done with restraint…with cognizance of the law. I only do things within the authority the state legislature has given me.” But Green also knows the importance of fun. During his first campaign, he met a boy with disabilities named Ethan whose dad drove him 45 minutes to an all-abilities playground. Green pushed for Draper to have an all-abilities playground, a project that will come to fruition this summer at Draper Park.
Lowery, a mother of three, likened campaigning and elections to pregnancy and childbirth. She said deciding to run for office is a lot like deciding to have a baby, in that once the baby arrives or once you’ve won an election, you forget how grueling the process was. “Both take a tremendous amount of courage and hope and faith, and both can be simultaneously beautiful and challenging all at once. You have a child because you believe in the future and you run for office for the same reason.”
Lowery’s dad passed away during this campaign. “I miss him every day. I learned…on your worst and saddest days, people you love will pick you up and help you along. I think that’s what it’s really about…how we treat others, how we show compassion, how we lift together.”
“Draper is doing so well and we want to keep it that way—stable, successful and beautiful… I want all of our residents to feel welcome and included and glad to live here. I feel the true weight of responsibility…not only for those who voted for me, but for every single resident,” Lowery said.
She hopes for civil discourse with residents to reach decisions on city matters. “I’ve learned to listen more than I talk, that there are rarely perfect answers, and that as much as you may want to, you can’t make everyone happy all the time. Our town remains a sanctuary of civility and diplomacy, trust and mutual respect. We can agree to disagree….I want residents to see this as a partnership. We are all in this together….There will always be challenges from growth to traffic to water to maintaining a robust staff, but as long as we tackle those problems together and listen to each other, we will figure it out,” Lowery said.
Walker, a David Letterman fan, had composed a humorous list of top ten reasons it’s good to be mayor. His No. 1 reason: “Mountain biking is one of my official duties."
Having recently turned 55, Walker said his perspective is more pragmatic, a bit more relaxed and a little more optimistic. He’s trying to enjoy the present more and have a better understanding of what he can and can’t control.
“You spend a lot of time occupied with how something’s going to turn out and it almost never turns out exactly how you thought it would. But in this collaborative process, we end up with something good—not perfect, but good. There’s a lot of tension in our culture politically right now. I think it’s bad how angry everyone is. The rancor is bad. I hope that subsides. I think the stress of Covid has really impacted the country. Life is pretty good, and if we try to stay the course and do the best we can for the most people, stuff works out and we get the things we need.”
Walker first became mayor in 2014. Back then, he marketed himself as a bulldog in his profession as an attorney and in his political campaign. He said councilmembers now say he’s more like a sheepdog in that he herds them along. Draper’s form of government only allows councilmembers to vote. The mayor can only vote when necessary to break a tie in the absence of a councilmember. Without a vote, Walker admits to trying to persuade councilmembers to his point of view. “My personality is I say what I think, take my position, and try to win people over to my side.”
Entering into his third term as mayor, he’s given some thought to other political opportunities, including county mayor or attorney general. “I’m not planning anything, but those are two jobs I’d be interested in doing.” He also doesn’t know yet if this will be his final term as mayor or if he’ll run again. “I’ve really enjoyed doing it but I don’t want to overstay my welcome either. Hopefully I’ll know when I get there. I’m really just enjoying the journey.” He predicts the part-time job of Draper mayor will likely become full-time in the future.
This mayoral term will end in 2025. Walker said the city is largely built-out, but the biggest growth and change will come at The Point. He’d like to see an NFL stadium or other large sports venue there and he advocates for better transit. He anticipates the biggest challenges in this new term will be managing growth while maintaining high quality public safety and services within the budget, and addressing the housing crisis. “This housing business is real and it’s a hard problem…it’s our kids, they’re the majority of our growth. We’ve just got to find places for them to live and opportunities for them to work.”
Walker thanked his wife, Stefani, for encouraging him to get involved in the community through volunteering which led to his involvement in local politics.
“The government closest to the people is us. We do a good job in this town…the greatest city in Utah,” Walker said.
The oath of office ceremony included the Pledge of Allegiance led by Draper City Youth Council Mayor Valerie Witzel, the Posting of Colors by members of Draper’s Police and Fire departments, and vocal performances by Stephanie Olson, Cole Hartley and Colin Baker.