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

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

The ‘stache is thriving again and is currently unthreatened, all 22 inches. He plans to enter it as the longest handlebar mustache in history. He washes it each night and the next morning he requires 10 minutes to get it ready for the day (you can watch the process in an online video). He sprays it with hairspray and then coats it with styling gel so that both wings point straight to his shoulders. He can pull them down and they spring right back into place. Snarr actually poked himself in the eye one night with the mustache and his eye got so infected that it glued itself shut.

“I’m a showboat, but I’m an honest one,” he says.

Poets and philosophers

On the wall of Snarr’s office are framed posters with quotes from many of the world’s great philosophers and statesmen — Longfellow, Thoreau, Frost, Wordsworth, Mandela, Ghandi, Mother Theresa and those mentioned early in this article. He calls Longfellow’s “Psalms of Life” his personal inspiration, and he can quote it from memory, along with countless other poems.

Not everything is high-brow. The mayor has written dozens of what he calls “cowboy” poems over the years about everything from a BYU-Utah dodgeball tournament to his mustache and Murray itself. A few years ago the mayor was invited to speak to students at Murray High School as part of the day’s events for the Great American Smokeout, the anti-cigarette campaign. He dashed off one of his “cowboy” poems for the occasion in about 10 minutes, read it to his attorney, who begged him not to read it, and then debuted it at the assembly.

The poem closed this way: “It’s the manufacturers who do you harm, for profits are their charm, and they know it all too well, your life they take to make their profits swell. Let’s all just stand and tell them to go to h---!”

He then proceeded to lead the students in a chant that repeated the last line. It wasn’t appreciated by parents and school officials, even if the sentiment was right, but that’s Snarr. He calls himself a child at heart; others say he should act more like a mayor.

For all of that, he has reached out to the community in his loud, here-I-am-world way, and not just when it comes to repairing yards. He instructed his assistant to leave Fridays open so he can talk to people in the community. He is a regular visitor to grade schools and especially anti-drug events.

Over the years he has received scathing emails from citizens who are upset about something. He shows up at their door at night, unannounced, emails in hand. It scares them until he says, “I want to hear what you have to say and then I want to explain why we did things the way we did.”

That sort of personal touch has won over at least part of the population. For some reason he receives frequent invitations to perform marriages — about 265, by his estimate. “He’s a people person,” says April. “He’s always hugging people and talking to them and waving to them.”

Privately, he gripes about politics. His pet peeve is dishonesty in politics (in a face-to-face showdown after a debate, he once threatened to punch out a political rival for telling lies about him, but wasn’t taken up on the invitation).

“The greatest advocate for progress is truth, and that’s what’s missing in politics,” says Snarr.

Snarr’s mayoral term ends with 2013, but he is probably not done with politics. The Democrats have asked him to consider running for a seat on the Salt Lake County Council. As his days as a mayor wind down, he turns reflective: “We got some nice things done. Now new adventures are on the horizon. There are still a lot of great things left to do.”

Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: drob@deseretnews.com

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