Muir new Kemmerer city administrator

GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis

Brian Muir is Kemmerer’s new city administrator. Muir said he is excited to promote economic development in the city.

Kemmerer is a historic community facing an uncertain economic future, but new city administrator Brian Muir said he believes the city can overcome these challenges by listening to new ideas from all stakeholders in the community.   

“I won’t sugarcoat it, we’re facing some tough things in this community,” Muir said. “But I’m optimistic that we can do difficult things and get through rough patches if we’re creative. Conflict should lead to a better solution.”

Muir, who started the job last week, emphasized the need to think outside the box to approach complex economic problems in Kemmerer, and said there are solutions that haven’t been thought of yet.

“Leadership is about listening to people with respect,” Muir said. “I like people to be honest with me. As a city administrator, I’m both a leader and a follower.”

Muir was born in Provo, Utah, and grew up in Idaho Falls. He comes to Kemmerer from North Salt Lake.

Muir is organizing a leadership summit with Kemmerer’s elected officials and department heads to gather input and create a vision and action plan for the community.

“It will be the council’s vision, not mine, but I will help implement it,” Muir said. “The council will tell me what my priorities should be, and I won’t move out ahead of them. They know this community and what works for the culture here.”

Muir and his wife started a consulting company, the James Madison Group, and have run the business for 16 years. The company trained leaders in cities, towns and counties in 20 different states to develop strategic plans and increase management skills. Muir said the skills he learned with his company will translate well to Kemmerer’s needs.

“I don’t pretend to have all the answers,” Muir said. “Multiple stakeholders already have great ideas, so we need to talk to find out where we want to be in the long term and what we have to do in the short term to get there.”

Muir served a Spanish-speaking LDS mission in San Antonio, Texas. He studied English at Brigham Young University, where he met his wife, Michelle, a Lander native. Muir received his Master’s in Public Administration at BYU.

“My wife and I are excited to meet people and get involved in the community,” Muir said. “I’ve been impressed with the amount of passionate and talented people that are really involved here.”

Muir and his wife Michelle will host a meet-and-greet event at the Events Center on Tuesday, March 5, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The Muirs have four children and seven grandchildren. Muir is the oldest of 12 children, and his father was a salesman for a food company. Muir said his first job after college was selling encyclopedias door-to-door.

“It was a tough job, but I learned how to work hard and adapt,” Muir said. “I learned that from my dad growing up. I delivered the newspaper when I was a kid in rain and in snow, and I passed on that paper route to my siblings.”

In high school, Muir was involved in athletics and music. He played the tuba, trombone and trumpet in the Idaho Falls Symphony. Muir has also been a member of a barbershop quartet and a doo-wop quartet.

“I would love to help bring more cultural things to Kemmerer,” Muir said.

Prior to starting his consulting business, Muir worked his way up at a software company in Salt Lake. He said this experience helped him learn how to adapt and plan for the future, an approach he thinks will be helpful as Kemmerer’s new city administrator. 

“I went from tech support to managing the international business team for 40 different countries,” Muir said. “When our company was being bought out, I said, ‘How can we make ourselves valuable to them?’ We merged our products and made money.”

Muir said communication and trust are key to ensuring Kemmerer is in the loop with plans for organizations like Rocky Mountain Power, who recently released an Integrated Resource Plan that debates the economic viability of the Naughton power plant.

“We need to let Rocky Mountain Power know this is our lifeblood, and it’s vital to our community,” Muir said. “We need to build that trust and create a ‘where do we agree’ relationship, so that we could ultimately have a public input meeting here in Kemmerer. This community deserves answers to those questions about the future of power here”

The new administrator also served on the city council in North Salt Lake, and made economic development a priority during his tenure.

“I know how to wear a lot of hats,” Muir said. “I will do what’s best for Kemmerer.”

Muir said creating goals for the city, especially for economic development, involves analyzing the city’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

“We shouldn’t just focus on our fears and weaknesses all the time,” Muir said. “We need to make our strong assets stronger.”

Kemmerer has great assets, like an events center, clean air, and “hometown values,” according to Muir.

“It’s a safe place to raise a family,” Muir said. “Kids walk by themselves to the bus stop, and you don’t see that hardly anywhere now. Quality of life is a big selling point here.”

Muir said he is impressed by the number of economic development organizations in the area, and looks forward to working with organizations like the South Lincoln Economic Development Commission and the Chamber of Commerce to encourage locals and tourists to support Kemmerer businesses.

“We have an amazing work force here,” Muir said. “I like the phrase ‘the trend is your friend.’ We can’t ignore our problems, and we have to encourage residents to invest in themselves and the community.”