Gov. Gary Herbert begins shake-up of top state leaders

Published: Friday, Dec. 7 2012 3:40 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Four state government leaders will be stepping down as Gov. Gary Herbert shakes up his cabinet prior to his first full term in office.

“The governor and senior staff have reviewed the entire governor’s office and Cabinet in an effort to ensure the governor’s priorities are met over the next four years in a way that serves that best interests of the state,” according to chief of staff Derek Miller.

Leaving are:

• Public Safety Commissioner Lance Davenport, who will retire after 29 years when his term ends June 30, 2013.

• UDOT Executive Director John Njord, who plans to retire after a national search for his replacement is conducted. Njord was appointed in June 2001 and has served under four governors.

• Corrections Executive Director Tom Patterson, who will step down Jan. 4, 2013. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. appointed Patterson in January 2007. Corrections deputy director Mike Haddon will serve as acting director while a national search is conducted for a new executive director.

• Insurance Commissioner Neal Gooch, who announced his retirement. Herbert appointed him in January 2010.

In addition, acting Workforce Services Executive Director Jon Pierpont has been named the agency's executive director, replacing Kristen Cox. Herbert recently named Cox the director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

Herbert was elected to his first four-year term in November. He assumed the office in 2009, when Huntsman resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China. A year later, Herbert successfully ran for the remaining two years of Huntsman's term.

Miller last month said at least a third to as many as half of the governor's 22-member Cabinet would be replaced. An announcement Friday referred to the changes as "initial," apparently meaning more are on the way.

Miller and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell started meeting with department heads and other appointees in the cabinet to discuss the results of a performance review about two months ago.

“It’s not just a matter of who’s doing a good job versus who’s doing a bad job,” Miller said in November. “Probably more often it’s a matter of fresh eyes, fresh perspective, new leadership, new vision and making sure it’s aligned with the governor’s vision.”

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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