So, in March 2000 I filed to run for public office. I was the first person to file for one of two county commission seats in Uintah County. Big deal you think. Yep, it was a big deal! It was such a big deal that 3 men who saw which seat I was running for, filed for the opposite seat! Whether they thought I was the better man or they thought I might beat them, didn’t matter. The fact is 3 of them ran for the other seat.
Uintah County is traditionally a republican county. In years, there had never been a county commissioner who was not: male, married, republican, LDS and from the area. I, a divorced, Chicago native, registered democratic woman, with no discernable religious preference, filed and ran. What an adventure of a race! I could share all kinds of stories! The people I met, the issues I learned about, the impact of those who listened…
I used my campaign to educate people on the importance of maintaining public access to public lands. I spoke of the importance of everyone using public lands to be a site steward, to protect and actively appreciate said access. So many, even those who made their living on public lands had no idea all the complications and impacts they made. When a county is nearly 80% public lands, it can only be impacted greatly by them.
So I ran my campaign and no matter the naysayers, did not compromise my beliefs, ethics or integrity and on the day we voted felt very good about whichever way it went. Either the residents of Uintah County would hire me to represent them for the following 4 years or not. My children, friends and I waited for the count at Niki’s Restaurant over looking Ashley Valley, the home of Vernal Utah. Vote tallies came in from the Ute Tribal areas strongly in my favor. Then Vernal City and Naples and pockets here and there. Then my town of Maeser voted for my opponent, a male, LDS, married republican from the area who had also been on the Vernal City Council for years. And in the end he won the Uintah County Commission seat and I got 43% of the vote and scared them a bit.
I had lost my job over the decision to run. I don’t know, what would you think if after filing to run, your republican boss of 5 years, you had made over half a million dollars for, in $5 increments, called you in and the first thing he said was, “I’m not firing you because you are a democrat…” What would you think?!
Eventually I left Vernal UT, the little town I cared so much about, where I had raised my children, volunteered in schools and for the county and community and where my youngest child had been born. I had been on people’s televisions, in their newspapers and on the radio for years. I had served as a trustee for the county library for years, then on the county public lands committee for over 6 years. They wouldn’t even take me off the committee until I’d been in SLC for over a year because they hoped I would come back! Anyway, what does all this have to do with our soon to be Gov. Herbert? A little story.
After moving to Salt Lake City, my oldest sister, Val Ziegler asked me to help her. She was the president of the oldest women’s republican club in the nation, right in SLC UT. She invited be continually and encouraged me to register as a republican. I paid dues and attended the Salt Lake City Women’s Republican Club meetings with my sis and listened and gave them money for my lunches and then Val needed me. She said, “Come help me take money at the door of a candidates BBQ in Sandy and don’t tell anyone you are a registered democrat. So I didn’t. Of course, at the door I got to greet everyone who came!
It was the 2002 state election and all kinds of offices were up and energy was high! I met a man running for a representative seat who had run the same time I did 2 years earlier. He greeted me and said, “It is so good to see you again!” and introduced his wife. I figured he thought I was my sister and introduced myself. He said, “I know who you are! We spoke at the same venues 2 years ago and I like what you said!” Huh! Imaging that. A reasonable woman is a reasonable woman. Think I heard something like that recently…
Then another man came up to me wanting to meet me. I figured he thought I was my sister, again and introduced myself. He said, “I’m Gary Herbert and I know who you are. I served on the Utah County Commission for 14 years and we watched your race and wanted you to win!” Well then. I know he is from Utah County and they have their own culture and it feels very restrictive to many of us who are a bit freer in our thinking, but I know what I campaigned on and I know who I ultimately ran against. If I was being watched on this side of the mountains and key people liked what I had to say, then I pay attention to them too.
I spoke the truth to the best of my knowledge of those truths. I was supported by democrats and republicans, green people and those in industry, those working for the county and those who thought county decisions were whacko, young and old, LDS and non. It’s like what I was told when asked to serve on the Uintah Public Lands Committee and help write the county’s land management plan for the first of 2 times while I served… then Commissionor Herb Snyder said, “We know you have the best interests of the county at heart. We want you on that committee.” And future gov, Gary Herbert paid attention and made a point to meet me when he had nothing to gain.
Well maybe he did have something to gain. I voted for the Huntsman/Herbert ticket and would again. I am obviously publicly blogging my support. If we have to lose Gov Huntmen, then I say, let’s give his choice of lt. gov. a chance to show us what he is made of and support Gov Gary Herbert, too.