Skip to main content

South Valley Riverton Journal

Ex-Special Ops Commander Brings Bluffdale City Council to Full Force

Sep 27, 2015 06:45PM ● By Rhett Wilkinson

Mark Lemery was selected by the Bluffdale city council as an interim councilman. The former Air Force intelligence officer will serve until January, when he will be succeeded by the winner of November's general election. Photo courtesy Mark Lemery

By Rhett Wilkinson

South Valley - Kosovo. Somalia. Kenya. Iraq.

Now, Bluffdale.

As a United States Air Force intelligence officer, Mark Lemery has been all over the world, moving 10 times in 22 years as he spent two years with NATO and supervised personnel from two dozen European countries. After being elected by the Bluffdale city council as its interim city councilman, Lemery said that he believes that his “diverse experiences” will lend themselves well to public service.

Lemery was appointed by the council in late August following the resignation of Heather Pehrson.

“I’ve had… a lot of experience to diverse cultures and viewpoints and can provide, possibly, an alternative perspective on some things that maybe someone born and raised in Bluffdale can’t,” he said. “It doesn’t mean my perspective is better; it’s just different.”

Lemery moved to Bluffdale after accepting a position as the critical infrastructure protection coordinator at Utah Statewide Information & Analysis Center. His title with the Air Force was Special Operations Command.

The South Valley Journal asked Lemery what he hoped to accomplish.

“Let’s be realistic. It’s four months, so my goal is my hope to get to speed on the key issues and to provide a competent and hopefully independent voice on the council,” he said. “I’m keeping the chair warm, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to sit there and be uninformed.”

Lemery said that he set to drive every street in Bluffdale to familiarize himself with the town.

Each of the candidates – nearly a dozen of them – presented themselves to the council. When Lemery spoke, he his “heart (was) warmed” for Camp Williams, a national guard training site in the neighboring city of Riverton. He also spoke about being familiar with the “mission” of the National Security Agency’s data center in town, having worked with NSA personnel.

“It was not so uncommon,” he said.  

Lemery spoke about the opportunity for Bluffdale to see more visitors since the area where the departing Draper prison lies will see development. He suggested that a restaurant or café could be built in Bluffdale.

“It doesn’t mean we necessarily have to have a tremendous amount of commercial development,” he said. “But certainly, we need some commercial development. … certainly competition isn’t a bad thing.”

Lemery said that the city also needed to focus on easy and safe access to neighborhoods, be it sidewalks, bicycle lanes or open-space trails.

“I believe the best sense of community is created when you are on bike or foot,” he said. “If you need to use your vehicle, you are not utilizing chances to build your community.”

Deppe commented to the Journal about Lemery’s appointment while talking about the meeting where it happened.

“We needed it,” she said.