Mel Brown has a family tradition of political service. His father ran for the state legislature when Brown was young, and he and his brother have both served as Utah’s speaker of the house. Brown is a man who has years of experience in the legislative process, and strong connections to the area he serves.
Brown is a Utah native who was born in Henefer and raised in Summit County. He was a teacher in Craig, Colorado for a time, but his heart has always been here in the Wasatch Mountains. He comes from a family of farmers and his family raised livestock for many years before becoming farm equipment dealers. He talks about how his family store provided early exposure to concerns of people in the surrounding area. Brown says, “The farm equipment dealership was always kind of a hub of discussion of all issues. People would come and buy parts and we would talk, so my family was always active politically.”
Brown and his family later ran a dairy that supplied dairy products under the Brown’s Summit Valley Milk brand. He sold his remaining interest in the dairy only a few years ago. Brown feels that his lifetime of experience in the community, and his understanding of the residents’ needs, have given him a perspective that has helped him represent his constituents well.
Brown has ten children. He has four children, who are grown, by his first marriage. When he remarried, his wife had four children, and they have two children together. Three of these children are still in school, and his experience as a parent has made him keenly aware of the need for a good educational system.
Brown began serving in the legislature in 1987. He rose to become speaker of the house, but then returned to private life. He then ran again for the Utah House, and is now serving in his second term representing District 53 in the Utah House of Representatives, which includes Morgan County.
He expresses pride in Utah and its conservative values. He believes that Utah has been able to weather the economic downturn better than other states because of its conservative fiscal stance. Brown says, “Utah has been able to endure the economic crisis in a very admirable way because over the years we have taken steps that have allowed us to be able to face these kind of conditions without really major crisises. The creation of a rainy day fund, or setting money aside for the future, was something that was created during my legislative tenure. I think it has been a great thing because without it, in order to maintain service level we would have had to have significant tax increases. We have had some, but nevertheless it has not been extreme. We are not facing bankruptcy as a state. For the last ten years running, Utah has been recognized as either the first or second best managed state in America. I think that rating is based on our ability to handle debt and meet our obligations.”
Utah is one of only a few states that has a AAA bond rating. Brown worked to guarantee the school district bonds so they could gain access to the AAA rating as well. This has saved taxpayers millions of dollars in interest on projects that required bonding.
As mentioned previously, Brown was an educator for a number of years and supports choice in education. He believes that tax dollars should only be expended on public schools, and opposes state funded voucher programs. Brown says, “I believe in education choice, I have always supported it. The only thing I am not in favor of is the public funding of all those choices… Utah is the lowest funded per pupil…that’s all driven by a very significant factor called family size, because our commitment to education is as good or better than any state. It is a good indication of how resourceful Utah people are…The support of parents [has allowed] us to have a very productive system and yet we haven’t been lavish with