OGDEN -- Sparks flew Tuesday as Weber County Commissioners -- all three are Republicans -- selected their new leader for the new year.
In a 2-1 vote, Commissioners Kerry Gibson and Matthew Bell broke with many years of tradition and gave Gibson, a former state lawmaker, another year as chairman rather than moving vice-chairwoman Jan Zogmaister into the top slot.
"I do believe that it is my turn to be commission chair as part of the rotation, which would put Commissioner Bell in as vice-chair" and Bell would then become chair in 2015, Zogmaister told her colleagues before they voted.
Gibson countered: "I think you're making this a little too personal."
For at least two decades, the three-member commission has elected its chair and vice-chair on a predictable rotation where everyone gets a one-year crack at the top slot after serving as second in command the previous year.
Bell spoke in support of his motion, saying, "I think we're good where we're at and need to stay on the course we're on."
Regarding the county's precedent, Bell said it was great "back then" but "this is now, this is today."
Davis County, Weber's neighbor to the south, currently has a resolution on the books providing for a systematic rotation of its three-member commission's chairperson.
"I'm familiar with a number of other commissions that run the same way, so that you rotate the chairship in a fair manner," said Davis County Commissioner Louenda Downs. "Years ago, it became a political thing where two would gang up or you'd see someone dominate the position for years."
Perhaps such fireworks should come as no surprise, since 2014 ushers in an election season where every Weber County office is up for grabs except for that of Bell, who was elected in 2012.
It turns out that Zogmaister already faces an intraparty challenge with Riverdale Police Lt. James Ebert vying for her Commission A seat.
Ebert, a frequent face at Weber County Commission meetings, was on hand Tuesday for the verbal dustup.
"It always makes me smile when people are more concerned about power than doing their job," Ebert said.
Ebert, 47, lives in Farr West and said he's concerned with the amount of debt the county took on with the recent voter-approved library bond.
Ebert, who supports "smaller government, less taxes and a free-market system," is also a big fan of Utah's caucus system where delegates get elected at the neighborhood level to then make decisions about candidates and policies at their party's convention.
"We use the caucus system to vet our candidates," Ebert said, "to make sure they are representing the (Republican) platform."
In a mid-December Commission meeting, Bell and Gibson voted in favor of a resolution supporting the caucus system. But Zogmaister opposed it, saying it was not the proper forum for an action she deemed political.
Ebert, a long-time Republican delegate in Legislative District 29 on the county's west side, said that supporters there view the library bond as "money going on to the books with little return to their community." The Library's $45 million five-year capital improvement plan does not include a branch on the county's west side.
According to Weber County Library Director Lynnda Wangsgard, a future west-side facility is needed, but its specific location will depend on population density and land becoming available.
"We could have bonded on a seven-year plan, but the concept was to put the five-year plan in place," Wangsgard said, "and at that point we should have the demographic information we need to determine a service point in the northwest portion of the county."
The capital improvement projects, approved by 54 percent of voters in a June special election, focuses on libraries that double as community centers and gathering spots. More information can be found at http://www.weberpl.lib.ut.us/capital-plan-updates.
The period to file as a candidate for county offices this year begins March 14 and ends March 20. In order to more evenly distribute the county offices that come open in even-numbered years, the treasurer, recorder, surveyor and assessor will run for six-year terms in 2014, said Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch.
Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.