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Our View: Clumsy commission power play

Friday , February 28, 2014 - 12:25 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

Weber County is witnessing a bit of political comedy, a power play in the Weber County Commission that is more bumbling than Machiavellian.

Two commissioners, Chairman Kerry Gibson and Commissioner Matt Bell, have rejected the tradition of allowing the current vice chairperson, Jan Zogmaister, to be the next chairman. By a 2-1 vote, Gibson was retained as commission chairman.

There was nothing illegal in the procedure. A tradition is not a law. However, this political drama between Republicans has the appearance of being an effort by Gibson and Bell to push Zogmaister out of the commission.

She is also facing an intraparty challenge from Riverdale Police Lt. James Ebert, of Farr West, who wants her Commission A seat.

Frankly, the power play seems to have backfired. Zogmaister has received lots of support from the community, and Gibson and Bell are receiving heavy criticism for their move, which broke the chair-rotation tradition.

There are issues that divide the GOP commissioners. Zogmaister opposed a resolution Gibson and Bell supported that supports the state’s caucus system. Zogmaister argued that such a resolution was inappropriate. We agree with her on that. Candidate Ebert is a strong supporter of the caucus system and a critic of the library bond’s allocation of money. How to allocate the library bond has been an issue the commission has grappled with.

Some have suggested that the Weber County Commission be increased to five commissioners, as a way to avoid two commissioners overpowering another. Perhaps the tradition of chair rotation can be formalized with a resolution, which is the rule in the Davis County Commission.

Perhaps this type of political drama is to be expected. We’re in a very political year, with every Weber County elected position contested except Bell’s commission seat. Politics was sure to surface, and it did so early. However, it was a ham-handed power play by Gibson and Bell, which frankly makes Zogmaister appear the most capable pol of the trio.

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