In his bid for the U.S. House, Kerry Gibson has sounded a consistent message, touting what he says is his political outlook and experience.
“I have a proven conservative track record of defending the right to life, protecting the 2nd Amendment and preserving our constitutional liberties for future generations,” he said in an email to the Standard-Examiner about his bid.
It echoes what he’s said in his various public appearances as he’s campaigned, and the message seems to underlie his bid. In fact, Gibson used the phrase “proven conservative track record” four times in his message to the Standard-Examiner to describe himself and his campaign. Also significant in Gibson’s message — what he indicates would be his ability to get right to work as a member of the U.S. House, given his experience.
“Now is not the time for on-the-job training,” he said in his message, also a common refrain in his campaign appearances.
Gibson, from western Weber County, is one of four Republicans vying for the 1st District U.S. House seat, now held by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, who’s not seeking reelection to the post. The others are Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt, Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson and Blake Moore, a management consultant in Salt Lake City. Gibson is a former Weber County commissioner and Utah House member and also served nine months as head of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food before stepping down to run for the House.
His traditional, conservative issues are the bedrock of his bid — his pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment stances, for instance — and he’s at times name-dropped President Donald Trump.
“Conservative Kerry Gibson, 100% pro-life, pro-gun and pro-Trump,” the narrator intones in a campaign video released earlier this month.
Also figuring big in his campaign, judging by his social media posts, are his connections and endorsements from a broad cross-section of elected leaders and other movers and shakers from across the 1st District. Indeed, results from the Utah Republican Party convention in April underscore his popularity with core GOPers — he garnered 57% support among party delegates in earning a place on the June 30 primary ballot.
The GOP winner on June 30 moves on to the Nov. 3 general election ballot, facing the winner of the Democratic primary between Jamie Cheek and Darren Parry.
‘LIVED HERE, WORKED HERE, LOVED HERE’
Gibson was born and raised in Weber County and his sentiments about the area are strong.
“I don’t believe there’s a candidate in this race who understands the 1st District like I do, as well as I do. I’ve lived here, worked here, loved here my whole life. I was born here. My family’s connection to this district goes back to my pioneer ancestors,” he said.
Gibson’s desire to serve, meanwhile, has its roots in his youth.
“My parents taught me at a young age that it was important to be involved in our community and to give service. And our life has always been about serving our community in one way or another,” he told the Standard-Examiner.
Gibson’s professional start was in agriculture. He long helped operate a family-owned dairy farm in western Weber County, held by a line of ancestors dating to Utah’s pioneer days, and that experience influenced his views and outlook. Gibson also operated a Weber County convenience store.
“I know how hard it is to operate a business and be able to do so with overbearing regulation, overbearing tax burden, and so I think it’s important for us to be strong in our defense of small business,” he said.
His interest in government service seems to have come from work in agriculture and food safety in the 2000s with the American Farm Bureau Federation, and as a fellow with the Eisenhower Fellowships program focusing on food safety issues.
“While serving in these capacities he had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time in Washington, D.C., where he developed a great love for this country which sparked a desire to be more politically active,” reads a bio from his days as a Weber County commissioner.
Gibson was first elected to the Utah House in 2004, serving three two-year terms. In 2010, he was elected to the first of two terms on the Weber County Commission. He stepped down from the county commission in mid-2018 to take a leadership post in the Utah Department of Natural Resources before moving on to the top spot at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
Gibson was the target of an Ogden Police Department probe in late 2017 and early 2018 in connection with his duties as county commissioner, apparently stemming from a series of complaints and concerns from county roads and public works employees. He denied wrongdoing all along and no charges were ultimately filed. Public release of the police investigation remains the focus of a public records fight, with the Utah Supreme Court to take up some of the legal questions in the tussle.