Utah House member, former senator eye bids for Weber County Commission seats

Tuesday , January 09, 2018 - 5:00 AM1 comment

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — A current Utah House member and a former Utah state senator are mulling bids for the Weber County Commission in elections this year.

Scott Jenkins, a former senator from Plain City, said Thursday that he has filed his interest with the Weber County Republican Party to take over the unfinished portion of Commissioner Kerry Gibson’s term, if and when Gibson steps down to take a state job. Rep. Gage Froerer, a Republican from Huntsville, said he is weighing a bid for commissioner and hopes to make a final decision by mid-February.

“It’s definitely on the table,” said Froerer, also on Thursday.

Lori Brinkerhoff, a former Hooper City Council member, said last month that she planned to vie for Gibson’s seat after Gibson announced plans on Dec. 12 to take a job with the Utah Department of Natural Resources. Shortly thereafter, Gibson rescinded his resignation after learning he was the focus of an ongoing Ogden Police investigation and said he’d stay on “until my name is cleared,” though Brinkerhoff’s plans haven’t changed.

Two of the three county commission seats are up for grabs this cycle, Gibson’s and James Ebert’s. Ebert, finishing his first term, said Thursday that he plans to seek re-election, with a formal announcement coming. Jim Harvey, elected to the commission in 2016, doesn’t face re-election until 2020.

Should Gibson end up seeking re-election, Jenkins — also a former Plain City mayor and city council member — is unsure what he’ll do. He’s a Gibson supporter, he said, and isn’t interested in running against him.

Froerer said if he decides to run, he isn’t sure if he’ll vie for the post held by Gibson or Ebert. Part of any determination will depend on what Gibson does.

Froerer, in his sixth two-year term in the Utah House, cited the county commission decision in 2016 to boost the county property tax rate by 22 percent in his potential interest in running. Many “were taken aback” by the hike, he said, and taking care of taxpayer money has always been a key focus.

Jenkins offered his name to finish Gibson’s term given the “newcomer” political status of Brinkerhoff and Utah Rep. Justin Fawson, who also expressed interest in filling Gibson’s term after Gibson’s initial announcement that he’d be taking a DNR job. Fawson, who rescinded his candidacy to replace Gibson after Gibson rescinded his resignation, was appointed to the House in April 2014 and has been elected to two terms.

Ebert said his re-election bid to the county commission would focus on his efforts to spur economic development and fight poverty.

Gibson didn’t immediately respond to a query seeking comment.

Froerer, like Gibson, helped spearhead a drive to petition for creation of a study committee to look into changing the three-commissioner form of county government here. The petition drive continues.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at [email protected], follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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