Robert Hale: Midvale’s first new mayor since 1998Jan 01, 2018 08:55AM ● By Travis Barton
Robert Hale was elected Midvale’s mayor in November. (Courtesy Robert Hale)
For the first time in more than two decades Midvale has a new mayor.
Mayor-elect Robert Hale will be sworn into office on Jan. 2, replacing long-time Mayor JoAnn Seghini, who chose not to run again.
After consulting with his wife and nudging from those around him (including Seghini), Hale decided to throw his hat in the mayoral ring.
Hale, a Midvale resident since 1969, won with almost 59 percent of the vote over Sophia Hawes-Tingey.
Due to his experience interacting with voters on the campaign trail, Hale said he had premonitions the election would go well. He invited people over who assisted his campaign on election night for what turned out to be a celebration.
“That was a good day, good evening, and we were all pretty happy,” he said.
The mayoral election included five candidates in August who Hale had to beat out as part of a campaign that started on the west side of the city and moved eastward.
Having served on the city council, the planning and zoning commission, the Union Community Council and various roles as an ecclesiastical leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Hale, 69, has met and worked with many people in the city.
“I think longevity and honorable service starts to pay off in time if your health’s good,” said the mayor-elect.
That time spent in civic leadership positions means he’s gained an understanding of the administrative part of running a city, Hale said. Whether that’s seeing pavement, curb, gutter and sidewalk coming to Mecham Lane (approximately 7600 S. 1000 East), which used to be a dirt road or working with residents to increase civic participation.
Hale was actually nearing the end of his second term on the city council in 2014 when he and his wife Susan, were called to serve an LDS mission in Brazil.
Hale said he’s gearing up mentally for the challenge of directing a city that, he noted, is staffed with “great directors and very capable employees.”
“They’re not afraid to do dirty work, they’re not afraid to do hard work, they’re not afraid to do long hours into the evening if necessary to get things done.”
He singled out the public works department for a situation in his neighborhood several years ago. A company had been putting fiber optics into the ground when they bored into a city water line.
Hale said crews were out there way into the cold, wet, muddy night repairing it.
“I just have nothing but praise for public works, they’re not afraid. Give them the tools and they’ll take care of it. Just step back and watch,” he said.
Hale will be replacing a city employee who has worked for the city since the mid-80s.
“This is one of the greatest mayors this city has ever had,” Hale said of the departing Seghini. He noted how she was on more than 30 committees always looking out for the city and ways to improve it.
Hale said getting State Street paved, curbed, guttered and sidewalked from 6500 South to 8400 South might be her greatest victory.
“Somebody told me once, ‘You got some big high-heeled shoes to fill,’” he said.
While Hale—a retired US Postal Service worker of 40 years, 35 of which were in management—will inevitably have different preferences and tendencies in his leadership role, he said there three main focuses he takes into the mayoral seat.
The first is the Jordan Bluffs site south of Center Street (7800 South) and just west of Main Street (700 West) that is a remnant of the federally deemed Superfund site, designated as a contaminated area to go through a long-term cleanup process.
No longer a Superfund site, the area is now available for development with varying opinions from residents, city officials and developers on what to do with it.
“I want to work through the RDA (Redevelopment Agency) director and our planning and zoning people and the developers to make sure that area becomes another diamond in the county,” Hale said.
With good minds, plans and execution the area should become a drawing card for first-class businesses, Hale said. He insisted there needs to be public input from those who will be closest to it.
“It’s got to be something that makes you glad to live there, makes you glad that happened in your neighborhood,” he said.
His second focus will be on The Road Home shelter for families located in Midvale. He wants to ensure people leave the center better off than when they came, and that works best with good agency and citizen contacts with the shelter.
“We need to help them get hope that life really can become better,” Hale said, highlighting work, education and mental or physical health as services to be available.
The third point of emphasis will be getting public input from residents throughout the city. Hale specified both the Bingham Junction area west of 700 West and east of State Street as areas he’d like to see getting involved by sharing input or joining city committees.
“There is so much intelligence and charity and caring to make Midvale a good place for their neighborhood, and if they can expand their mind, to the whole city,” Hale said.
He added he’d like to find people willing to give time to sit on committees whether it’s for arts, beautification or planning and zoning.
“I know there’s people willing to do it, but putting the ability and the need together, I’d like some ideas,” he said.
Hale speaks Portuguese and Spanish, respectively, in addition to collecting stamps (he did work at the post office) and pins with his wife. They have raised six kids in Midvale.