Kerry Gibson

Kerry Gibson, former Weber County Commissioner and head of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, announced plans on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, to run for the U.S. House. 

Kerry Gibson, the former Weber County commissioner and more recently the head of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, will run for the U.S. House.

He announced his plans, focus of prior speculation, in a Facebook post Tuesday, and he joins an ever-growing field. The 1st District seat he’ll be vying for is now held by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican from Brigham City who’s not seeking reelection.

“I’m running for Congress because our community deserves a proven and dedicated representative, who will fight for our conservative values without apology,” Gibson, a Republican, said in his post. “I am tested and ready to fight for our district.”

He touted his support of the 2nd Amendment, the rights of the unborn and his support for President Donald Trump in a video accompanying the announcement.

“Farmer, successful businessman, man of faith,” the narrator of the video intones. “In Congress he’ll stand with President Trump to protect life, defend our 2nd Amendment and fight federal overreach.”

As he officially joined the race for the U.S. House, he stepped down as commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, the department said in a statement. He had only been in the post for about eight months, and Gov. Gary Herbert appointed Kelly Pehrson, who had been a deputy director in the department, as interim manager on news of Gibson’s resignation.

Gibson addressed his plans in a meeting earlier Tuesday with ag department employees. “Ultimately the deciding factor was the opportunity to serve Utah’s farmers and ranchers in a far-reaching way at a national level, he said,” according to a department statement.

Gibson served nearly two terms as Weber County commissioner, stepping down near the end of his second term to take the post as deputy director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources in June 2018. He left that post last April to take over as commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. He had helped run a family dairy in western Weber County, and prior to his election to the county commission, Gibson also served as a member of the Utah House.

Among the many other GOP candidates for the U.S. House seat are Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Cannon, Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, Clearfield Mayor Mark Shepherd and Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson.

Gibson was the target of an Ogden Police Department probe at the end of his tenure as county commissioner focused on his duties in the post. Gibson denied wrongdoing all along, said political foes were behind the matter and no charges were ultimately filed. However, release of the police investigation to the media remains the focus of a public records fight, with the Utah Supreme Court to take up some of the legal questions in the tussle.

AG, BUSINESS, GOVERNANCE

Gibson’s name had been circulating as a potential candidate for the U.S. House with Bishop’s plans not to run again. The 1st District covers Weber County, northern Davis County and eight other northern and northeastern Utah counties.

On his campaign website, Gibson zeroed in on his ag background, his support of the free-enterprise system and his experience as an elected leader. The website said that as of 2018, he no longer holds an ownership stake in the family dairy.

“He is fluent in agriculture production, business management and governance leadership,” Gibson’s website reads.

The website hits many traditionally conservative touchstones, noting his support of gun rights, his pro-life stance and his fiscal conservatism.

“Kerry believes in less government intrusion and more local control of natural resources and public lands,” campaign literature on his website reads. “Kerry will work to balance the budget, cut spending and lower taxes.”

He expanded on that, saying the private sector drives the economy. “As a strong believer in the free-enterprise system, he believes in hardworking citizens driving our economy and getting big government out of the way,” his website reads.

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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