By Emily Larson
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY – Although he has only been representing Summit County for the last few years, Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, is one of the most experienced legislators in Utah. He has served a collective 22 years on Utah’s Capitol Hill.
Brown’s exposure to politics began long before he became an elected representative. When he was a young boy, his father ran to become state representative. “He was not successful but it obviously made quite an impression on my mind,” Brown said.
The family’s political involvement didn’t end there. Brown’s brother, Glen Brown, served in the state legislature for 14 years and served as speaker of the house before Mel Brown also sat in in the speaker’s chair.
Initially, Mel Brown was elected as a representative for Salt Lake County and served there from 1987-1999. During that time, he served as Speaker of the House for a term. In 1999, Brown faced allegations of unethical communications with US West regarding the possibility of a job after his legislative service came to an end. He denied all accusations. Around this time, Brown also divorced and moved to Coalville.
Brown decided to attempt to reenter the Legislature in his new district in 2006.
“The sitting legislator retired and I decided to try it again and was successful. I’ve held the seat ever since,” Brown said.
Brown considers himself an advocate for rural Utah.
“I believe that we have a real responsibility to protect the customs and culture of rural Utah and that’s one of my focuses . . . I feel like I’ve always championed with rural Utah and the people who live here because they enjoy the custom and culture of our environment,” the representative said.
Brown mentioned a few different topics that he believes will be important issues during this session. The list included the gas tax, natural gas, and social issues, including Medicaid expansion and equal rights, as well public education funding. He also listed issues that will especially relate to rural Utah, namely property rights, water rights, and planning and zoning.
“I think the state is at a crossroads. The economy in Utah is recovering well. We’re starting to grow the budget, and what that does is create a lot of interest in money,” he said.
Brown said he does not currently have any bills for this session published, but he is very selective in the bills that he chooses to sponsor.
“I don’t believe in running a lot of bills,” Brown said. “I select very carefully the bills I think are important and substantive. You can go back and check my record. There’s a lot of significant legislation that I have sponsored in the past.”
Today, Brown has amassed 22 years of service and spends the interim months running his farm, doing consulting work, and driving school buses as a substitute driver.
“At my age, I try to be just a little bit retired,” Brown joked.
Brown mentioned the high regard he places on his elected office.
“Let me just say,” he said, “that I deem it a distinct and extreme honor to be able to represent the people of this district.”