Murray's mayor Dan Snarr hardly looks or acts the part of a politician

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 25 2013 3:00 p.m. MST

Dan Snarr, the man with the 22-inch handlebar mustache and the 1990 beater car, is on his way out after 16 eventful years as Murray's mayor. Photographed in Murray on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

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MURRAY — Dan Snarr, Murray’s outgoing four-term mayor, starts talking before he even sits down for a scheduled interview — and keeps talking for the next 2½ hours without coming up for air. Hardly a question needs to be asked. He talks and talks. He apologizes for this several times, blaming it on “ADHD,” but then picks up where he left off.

When Snarr talks, all a journalist can do is get out of the way and try to take notes, if he can keep up. Everyone tells Snarr his mind goes 100 miles per hour, but that’s conservative. Whatever pops into his mind comes out of his mouth, and he leaps from one subject to another with no order, one tangent leading to another. He talks about everything. The infusion of new businesses in Murray. His childhood. The mustache. His work ethic. His cowboy poetry. His love of flowers. Weeds. His wife. The people who don’t like him, which, by his estimation, constitute a crowd.

Snarr, who will turn 64 on Jan. 1, got into politics 16 years ago, but he’s no politician. He doesn’t look like one, doesn’t dress like one, doesn’t talk like one, doesn’t work like one. He says what’s on his mind, and doesn’t worry about political expediency. “Most politicians do this,” he says, sticking his finger in his mouth and pointing it to the sky, as if testing which way the wind is blowing. There is no subterfuge, no spin; what you see is what you get — a man who’s a little rough around the edges by a politician’s standards, but passionate, aggressive, outspoken and, always, genuine.

“I’m different, and I know I am," he says. "Socrates said, ‘The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be.”

Different? Name another mayor who sports a handlebar mustache that is 22 inches from tip to tip and moves up and down like wings when he talks. Name another mayor who punctuates his conversation with quotes from Socrates, O.C. Tanner, Aristotle, Martin Luther King and Joseph Smith. Name another politician who drives a rusty old car and gets up at 4 a.m. to plow snow and keeps a sprayer in his back seat so he can kill weeds around town just to experience that warm feeling of progress that he craves. Name another mayor who has been asked to perform hundreds of marriages or who once threatened bodily harm to a rival candidate.

Different? That doesn’t begin to describe him.

To quote an old movie, let me explain … no, there is too much. Let’s try to tell this story one bite at a time.

The *#*$# mayor

Snarr once asked an unsuspecting Murray citizen what he thought about all the development in Murray. Snarr says he was fishing for a compliment; instead, he got an earful. “We’re lucky anything happens with that d--- mayor in charge,” he began and went on for another five minutes like that. Snarr listened and when the man was finished he explained why things were done the way they were in Murray, issue by issue. “How do you know so much about this?” the man asked. Snarr replied, “Because I’m the d--- mayor.”

As Snarr discusses his life, he often adds a parenthetical remark after mentioning someone he has met along the way — i.e., “He probably doesn’t like me” or “he hates my guts.” Snarr has not endeared himself to everyone during his four terms in office because he has brought change and development. “Those who are unwilling to invest in the future will never have one,” he likes to say.

Snarr led the way to tear down the famed old smelter site with its familiar twin brick smokestacks and, after months of intense negotiations and threats of litigation, convinced the 17 owners of the property to sell to Intermountain Medical Center, which was built on the site. Snarr also has overseen revitalization of the city’s gateway on Main Street and a cleanup project that led to the creation of 32-acre Willow Pond Park.

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