Pinch me, I'm legislating: Weiler's whirlwind two weeks

Jan 24 2012 - 7:18am

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(ASHLEY FRANSCELL/Special to the Standard-Examiner) Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, who replaced Dan Liljenquist in the Utah Senate, holds his hand over his heart as the flag enters the Senate on the first day of the 59th Legislature on Monday at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City.
(ASHLEY FRANSCELL/Special to the Standard-Examiner) Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, who replaced Dan Liljenquist in the Utah Senate, holds his hand over his heart as the flag enters the Senate on the first day of the 59th Legislature on Monday at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE -- It has been a whirlwind two weeks for Utah's newest state senator.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said he has to pinch himself to see how far he has come in such a short time. On Monday, he sat through his first session in the Utah State Senate.

Weiler was elected to replace Dan Liljenquist, who resigned to challenge U.S Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for the Republican nomination.

Weiler was chosen by district delegates Jan. 10 and on Friday the 13th, he was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert to fill the vacancy. He took the oath of office Jan. 17. He is one of three newly named senators to the 29-member body.

"I feel like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time," Weiler said Monday after the opening session of the Senate had concluded. He acknowledged he is not new to politics or state lawmakers, but said he is still excited to be part of the process.

He kicked off his day by riding his bike to work. It is a practice he hopes to continue, weather permitting.

"I'll do it as often as I can," he said of his energy-saving mode of travel.

While he may not be in the fast lane getting to the Capitol for a session, he has been on another fast track.

"The past two weeks have been nonstop. I have literally rushed from one meeting to the next and called people back in between. And I have loved every minute of it," Weiler said in his newly created political blog.

The 44-year-old father of four said he's enjoying his new role.

"This is the most fun I've had in a long time. The dominant feeling is excitement. And I have a LOT of energy. I felt some anxiety and/or nervous energy before the election, but not since."

One of the adjustments for the newcomer is getting used to his new title. During his initial tour he told people to call him Todd. A Senate aide pulled him aside and let him know state employees must be more formal to him.

"I hope that I will never adapt to being Senator Weiler. But, despite my best efforts, I get called that several times a day. I think part of the problem on Capitol Hill is that the state employees are required to treat us like celebrities or something, and legislators buy into it," Weiler said. "I am going to try real hard to not fall into that trap. I work for the people and hope to never lose that perspective."

Even though he's a newcomer to the Senate, he is hardly an unknown face to many of his new colleagues. The former Woods Cross councilman served as the chairman of the Davis County Republican Party and vice chairman of the Utah Republican Party.

Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said Weiler will add to what he described as a talented group of political representatives from the Top of Utah.

Weiler is currently the vice president/general counsel for Logistic Specialties Inc. (LSI) in Layton. His community involvement includes serving on the Woods Cross City Council and Utah Republican Party State Central Committee, as well as the county and state party positions.

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