Darron Murray in January with his wife Carla, after they returned from the Obama inauguration. (The Daily News/File)
Darron Murray in January with his wife Carla, after they returned from the Obama inauguration. (The Daily News/File)

Archived Story

Dowagiac City Council losing another member

Published 8:49am Tuesday, October 27, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

Darron Murray, First Ward Dowagiac City Council member, announced Monday he is stepping down effective Nov. 9 after 10 years of service as an elected official.

Murray, who lost his job of about 15 years at Contech when it closed, reported he started a new job Monday in Wisconsin that will take him from the community.

Mayor Donald Lyons said, “Darron has been an excellent elected official who has taken his role of public service seriously. Many improvements to the City of Dowagiac have occurred during his time in office. We want to thank him for his decade of service and wish him and his family our very best.”

City Charter calls for vacancies in elected positions to be filled within 30 days of the opening.

Lyons announced that City Council will be seeking applications from any First Ward residents interested in serving the community as a council member.

Applications are available at City Clerk Jim Snow’s office Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All applications are due in the city clerk’s office no later than Nov. 23.

Third Ward Councilman Leon Laylin, selected mayor pro tem at the previous meeting Oct. 12 after Wayne Comstock announced his decision to resign after 22 years representing Second Ward, and a council committee will interview all applicants and offer a recommendation Dec. 7.

Council will hold a special meeting that night to consider and to act on committee recommendations.

“This is a bittersweet meeting for me,” the mayor said. “I deeply appreciate the contributions of both of those council members and how much I enjoyed working with them. I appreciate the tough times when they went out of their way to do the right thing. I want that understand.

“I also look forward to working with the new appointments, whoever they may be. Several have applied for Wayne’s position.”

Laylin moved to accept Murray’s resignation “with regret. He’s been an excellent council person. We hate to lose him.”

Any questions about duties and responsibilities of this position may be directed to Snow, Lyons or any of the other elected council members.

In his letter, dated Oct. 26, Murray wrote: “I am formally resigning my post as First Ward councilman effective Nov. 9. It has been an honor, pleasure and humbling experience for which I am eternally grateful.

“To the mayor, council, city clerk and city staff: Thank you for working with me the last 10 years to make the First Ward a better place to live and raise a family.

“I will never forget the wonderful relationships and friendships formed during my time in office. Dowagiac will always be the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Murray concluded.

Murray and his wife, Carla, who has been deputy director of the Cass County information systems department, have three children: Darron II; Miles; and Desiree.

As a councilman, Murray regarded non-partisan City Council as a way to connect people.
“I like to help,” says Murray, who won his third four-year term in 2007 against Howard Hall.

Murray grew up on Ashland Street and graduated from Union High School in 1989.
He knew from his own life that each connection, each experience, broadens his perspective and opens new doors, like when he got involved with the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival.

During Murray’s time on council Central Middle School was removed for the Donald Lyons Health Center as a companion piece to the Borgess Lee-Memorial Hospital emergency room expansion.

Eagle’s Wood and Eagle’s Trace apartments and Forest Glen Assisted Living opened, following Pamida in 2000 and AmeriHost (now Baytown) in 2001.

Oct. 10 the new Wolf Street fire station was dedicated.

In an interview two years ago Murray envisioned the next stage as a “family recreation” complex, which is also coming to fruition with Russom Field.

Murray earned two associate degrees at Southwestern Michigan College before undertaking a Bethel College organizational management degree.

“Lowe Street, getting the bridge done, that was a huge project. That cost over $1 million. Walter Ward Park is big, too, and it’s beautiful compared to what it used to look like,” he told the Daily News in a 2007 election interview.

“Another big thing that’s been done that doesn’t get a lot of play – but it’s a noticeable difference,” Murray said, “and that’s drugs” through the joint efforts of an enforcement team in which the city cooperates with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, funded by a millage voters approved.

Murray didn’t get appointed to the council on his first try.

The council instead selected Jack Alexander to succeed Amos Clark.

Murray was subsequently appointed to the city Planning Commission and to a new housing commission citizen review subcommittee.

Retired police captain Paul Holloway, the First Ward incumbent in Murray’s first bid, was elected to council in 1995 and had filed for a second four-year term in 1999 to keep his options open.

The two men didn’t know each other well previously, but once Holloway met briefly with Murray, he stopped campaigning that October and threw him his support.

In 2003, 28 percent of Dowagiac voters buried the rental inspection ordinance by a better than 3-1 margin, but didn’t extend that wrath to City Council members.

All three incumbents were re-elected, though the ordinance implemented June 1 was repealed, 765-244.

In that election six years ago, Murray defeated challenger Arthur Jackson, 188-94, to clinch his second four-year term.

Murray and Second Ward Councilman Bob B. Schuur opposed the controversial ordinance in a 4-2 vote on April 28, 2003.

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