Councilmembers sworn in; speak of patriotism, collaboration and serviceFeb 05, 2024 02:24PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
The three winning candidates for Draper City Council took the oath of office Jan. 2 at City Hall. Fred Lowry (right) and Cal Roberts (left) were reelected, and Bryn Heather Johnson began her first term on the council. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)
City Manager David Dobbins began the oath of office ceremony at Draper City Hall, saying government closest to the people is more responsive to people’s needs, and city government is theoretically more effective because it’s closer to the people. Dobbins said public service “takes a lot” and that it’s a commitment for the families of the councilmembers as well.
“But that’s what we do, we’re looking to make Draper the best city in the state of Utah,” Dobbins said.
Following his remarks, the oath was administered to Fred Lowry, Cal Roberts and Bryn Heather Johnson, winners of November’s election for city council, each with a four-year term. Lowry and Roberts served on the council the past four years, and this will be Johnson’s first term. She previously served on the Draper Historic Preservation Commission and has been active with the PTA at Corner Canyon High School as well as the School Community Council.
Johnson said her journey to the council began “because of the support and confidence of my husband,” because he recognized her many years of volunteer experience and passion for Draper. She said she thought he was crazy at first because she was busy planning her daughter’s wedding and other activities. But she began to ponder the possibility herself once he’d planted the seed.
“I quickly thought of my goals and priorities should I be elected, managing the expected growth, conserving natural resources, including paying attention to air quality and engaging our youth in meaningful programs and keeping them safe,” she said. “I realized I should consider running.”
Johnson quoted Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis in saying, “The most important political office is that of the private citizen,” noting that people must stay informed and vote. Brandeis was known as incorruptible and a crusader for social justice. Johnson said sexism, racism and bigotry do not align with Draper’s values and that she plans to work with the people to promote ideals that make Draper a good community to live in.
“I’m excited to get to work,” she said.
Lowry expressed patriotism and gratitude and recognized his parents for teaching him to give public service.
“I love Draper,” he said. “I love this city. I love this state, and I love this country. I feel so blessed to be a part of this community.”
Lowry echoed Dobbins’ thoughts on the importance of local government. He addressed a lack of civility in modern culture and said that can be controlled locally by working collaboratively.
“I will strive to maintain that level of dignity that will allow us to have discussions,” Lowry said. “It takes all five of us (the council) to work together. There may have been criticisms (that we often vote unanimously). We’re able to work together and work out a lot of things so we can be unanimous. We’re not going to always have 5-0 votes, but we’ll work together to move forward.”
Lowry hopes voters will hold the councilmembers accountable.
“That’s why you elected us,” he said. “The voters are my friends; I’m just a fellow constituent. I hope we can maintain a level of dignity that can spread to the state and the federal level.”
Roberts said he’s often asked how he likes serving on city council.
“The reality is I love serving, being a part of building Draper’s future, interacting with volunteers and residents,” he said. “I still believe public service can be noble and worthwhile.” His focus has been on “hyperlocal” issues, and he said that a growing threat to our city comes from a dissolution of civic engagement.
In his remarks, Roberts mentioned former U.S President Ronald Reagan’s reference to “little platoons,” an idea that originated with Edmund Burke, a member of British Parliament and known in the U.S. as a founder of conservatism. Roberts said those “little platoons” such as family, churches and civic groups are an engine for prosperous and flourishing communities.
“I think local government functions as a little platoon,” Roberts said. “I’ve seen it solve many problems, promote economic development, conserve water, push back on big mining interests, and throw great parties (Draper Days). I believe in the power of little platoons to make a difference.”
Before the election, Draper City’s website made information available about each candidate as well as their required campaign finance disclosures which itemized contributions received and expenditures. Those documents show that the three winning candidates were the individuals who invested the most in their campaigns. Public records indicate the salary of a Draper councilmember ranges from approximately $25,000 to $30,000 annually, including wages and benefits.
Each candidate signed an optional Pledge of Fair Campaign Practices committing to decency, honesty and fair play in their campaigns, affirming that they wouldn’t permit “scurrilous attacks” on any of the candidates or their families or do anything to corrupt or undermine the American system of free elections or hinder the free expression of the will of the voters.
Mayor Troy Walker addressed the recently sworn-in council members.
“Some places you serve, you’re insulated from criticisms,” he said. “You are not when you’re on the city council. You’re subject to and should expect the criticism that comes. As we come together to do the work of the city, we can’t do everything we want, and we can’t do everything the people want. Most of the time it’s really good; some of the time it really sucks.”
He commended the city staff and spoke with excitement about the city’s future, including development of The Point.
“We have to look ahead,” he said to the new council members. “Your vision has to be out front.”
Dobbins congratulated the three council members for “helping make your vision of Draper a reality.” The new council went to work with its first meeting Jan. 9, one week after the oath of office ceremony. λ