Kerry Gibson to take Utah DNR job, step down from Weber Co. Commission

Tuesday , June 05, 2018 - 3:49 PM

OGDEN — Kerry Gibson will finally be going to the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

He announced that Tuesday would be his last day as Weber County commissioner and that he’d take a job as deputy director at the state agency.

“It’s an assignment that I’m tremendously excited about and looking forward to,” he said at Tuesday’s county commission meeting.

Gibson announced last December that he’d be stepping down as county commissioner to take the DNR job. But he abruptly changed course days later — after news emerged that he was the focus of an Ogden Police Department probe — and decided to stay on as commissioner.

He announced May 17 he’d been cleared in the matter, and with the investigation now complete, he’s taking the job he had dreamed of.

RELATED: Commissioner Gibson cleared in Ogden police probe, won't face charges

In announcing his plans, Gibson — finishing his second term as county commissioner — lauded the county’s employees and encouraged them to keep up their efforts. But he made no mention of the police inquiry, focused on a Weber County flood-mitigation project completed in 2015, or the subsequent review by Davis County prosecutors. He had denied wrongdoing all along.

In a statement, though, DNR Executive Director Mike Styler referenced the controversy. The new offer for the deputy director’s job came after Davis County officials finished their work, clearing Gibson of wrongdoing, the DNR said.

“My primary concern has always been to have the truth brought out. While I believed from the beginning that Kerry would be cleared of any and all wrongdoing, I also believed it was prudent to delay his (appointment) until he was cleared,” Styler said.

Styler and Gibson, a former Utah House member, worked together as state lawmakers and the DNR head is “thrilled” Gibson is taking the post, starting this week. The statement cited Gibson’s background as a dairy farmer, Utah House member and county commissioner.

“He has always been a fierce advocate for natural resources and we are pleased he remains committed to accepting this assignment following this personal ordeal,” Styler said. Gibson will be one of two deputy directors in the state agency.

Gibson’s county commission seat will be vacant, setting up the need for a special election by the Weber County Republican Party to find someone to fill out his term, which goes through 2018. Scott Jenkins, Republican candidate for the next term in the seat in elections later this year, said Tuesday that he’d likely vie in the special election, tentatively set for June 18.

Jenkins faces Democrat Neil Hansen in Nov. 6 elections for the next term in the commission post.

‘YOU’VE BEEN GREAT’

Gibson generated applause and accolades from those at Tuesday’s county commission meeting after he announced his plans. Some referenced the investigation, centered on a flood-mitigation project along the Weber River, partially adjacent to property owned by Gibson’s family.

The Weber County Attorney’s Office, which serves as legal counsel to county commissioners here, asked the Davis County Prosecutor’s Office to review the Ogden Police inquiry.

Per the Davis County review, prosecutors zeroed in on whether Gibson misappropriated Weber County equipment or personnel for work on Gibson family property. They also looked into whether Gibson directed Weber County employees to perform campaign fundraising activities on his behalf during business hours, according to the May 17 letter from Davis County officials announcing no charges would be forthcoming.

“It’s been awesome to watch him just rise to the top and become a better man because of all the trials and struggles that he’s had,” said his daughter, Kayden Bradford.

Toby Mileski, former mayor of Pleasant View and northern Utah’s representative to the Utah Transit Authority Board of Trustees, lauded his service.

“You’ve been great. You’ve been a great representative for our county, for our cities... You’re going to be missed, more than you think,” said Mileski. He also singled out for praise Gibson’s 2016 vote against a controversial county property tax hike.

Gibson’s wife Katrina, though not directly mentioning the inquiry her husband faced, referenced the trials that can come with being a public official in the spotlight, offering elected leaders and their families praise.

“You put your name out there for public scrutiny and for everyone to judge you whatever you say or do,” she said. “I want to thank you all for your willingness to do that, for your willingness to put your name out there for public service.”

Below is of the Standard-Examiner’s coverage of the Kerry Gibson investigation:

Dec. 13, 2017: Police investigation into Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson revealed

Dec. 15, 2017: Weber County commissioners shuffled duties before news of a police inquiry

Dec. 15, 2017: Weber County Commissioner Gibson denies wrongdoing, says he'll stay in post

Jan. 23: As Gibson police probe continues, Utah DNR head remains supportive

Feb. 21: Gibson backers, officials say river project handled properly as probe continues

March 1: Kerry Gibson police probe done, Davis County Attorney's Office handling review

March 15: Weber Co. Commissioner Gibson won't run again, 2 others file to run for post

April 10:  Weber County roads employees' charges led to GIbson probe, ex-official says

April 14: Weber Commissioner Gibson says he won't be charged with any crime

April 16: Davis Co. attorney mum after Weber Commissioner Gibson says he won't be charged

April 22: Davis Co. review of Ogden PD probe not over, lawyer says Gibson not a target

May 17: Commissioner Gibson cleared in Ogden police probe, won't face charges

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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