Two Davis County commissioners, one whose term was marked by shouting matches and headlinemaking controversy and the other a five-month interim commissioner, closed out their terms Wednesday.
Commissioner Dub Lawrence, whose two years in office frequently pitted him in acrimonious battles with his fellow commissioners, called his term an "interesting experience" and one for which he's grateful.Commissioner Robert Rose, appointed five months ago to replace William Peters, said he found the experience of serving in a local government position to be challenging and rewarding, but he's glad he didn't have to go through the election process to do it.
Both complimented remaining commissioner Gayle Stevenson, who has two years left in his term. Neither Rose nor Lawrence chose to run for their commission seats in November and will be replaced by former Kaysville mayor Gerald Purdy and J. Dell Holbrook, the first Democrat elected to the commission in 30 years.
Acknowledging the controversy that marked the first 18 months of his two-year term, Lawrence said his actions brought about more public debate and deliberation among the commissioners, which he called healthy.
He complimented Stevenson, who has served as commission chairman since July, saying the tone of commission meetings has changed for the better.
"In the last few months, thanks to Commissioner Stevenson, things have gotten better," Lawrence said. "I've been treated with respect, my opinions have been treated with respect and I was able to vote my conscience without being ridiculed or belittled."
Lawrence repeatedly clashed with Peters, who was commission chairman until he resigned in July after being appointed to the state board of pardons. The two have been political enemies for more than two decades, dating back to when Lawrence defeated Peters for county sheriff.
Although he frequently lost his battles, Lawrence said he always voted his conscience, following what he perceived to be the mandate of the voters who elected him.
Lawrence said he opposed the action by the state Legislature last year that converted all three commission seats to four-year terms. Previously, there were two four-year and one two-year seat, so two of the three commissioners came up for election every two years.
"The public could change two-thirds of the commission, elect a new majority, every two years. Now the voters can only change the majority every four years, and I don't think that's a good thing," Lawrence said, especially with the County Commission combining the legislative and executive government functions of the county.
He predicted there will be more debate on that issue and the form of county government may be changed again in the future.
"I lost that one," Lawrence said, referring to his opposition to the change. "It went through with very little debate on the Hill."
Another battle he lost, after taking it to the Utah Supreme Court, is the county's consolidation of the offices of auditor and clerk. But Lawrence said he now thinks it may be a good idea and will save the county money.
"There is a potential cost saving, but I still have reservations about it," Lawrence said. "But if you can make it work, then you have proven me wrong and I commend you on that one."
Lawrence said press coverage of his activities was generally fair but not always what he would have liked.
"I haven't always agreed with the press coverage, but I respect the role of the press in covering local government and conveying the events to the public.
"By and large, I think I was fairly represented in the press. I said it, with both feet in my mouth, and I have to live with it," Lawrence said.
He complimented Rose, calling him articulate and saying he brought objectivity and stability to county government after his interim appointment.
Rose, a tax attorney, called his short term "a tremendous opportunity, as a taxpayer, to participate in the decisionmaking process. Especially," he added, "without having to go through the electoral process to get here."
"I often compared my job here to being a kid in a candy store. It was a great opportunity. It was truly one of the highlight experiences of my life."
Rose said he believes the succeeding commissioners are capable and will do a good job.
"I'm not leaving office with any concerns about our replacements. And I'm not leaving office with any plans to run again in two years," Rose said, referring to when Stevenson comes up for re-election. "I'm leaving the County Commission in extremely good hands."
Stevenson commended Lawrence and Rose for their service, noting county government continues to move forward through the efforts of good people.
As for the controversy that marked the first two-thirds of Lawrence's term, Stevenson said no purpose would be served to remark on it.
"It's over, and that's the best thing I can say about it," Stevenson commented.
FARMINGTON - Five new county officials will be sworn in at 8:45 a.m. Monday in the Davis County Courthouse commission chambers. Second District Judge Rodney S. Page will administer the oaths.
Gerald Purdy, former mayor of Kaysville, and J. Dell Holbrook, a building contractor and chairman of the county's Democratic Party, will be sworn in for four-year County Commission terms.
Margene Isom, incumbent clerk, will be sworn into the new combined clerk-auditor's office. Incumbent auditor Ruth Kennington also ran for the newly combined office but was defeated in the GOP county convention in May.
Glenn Clary, the Riverdale police chief, will be sworn in as the county's new sheriff, and Michael Porter will take over as county treasurer. Clary defeated incumbent sheriff Harry V. Jones in the October GOP primary.
Incumbent treasurer Pauline McBride is retiring and chose not to run for re-election.