Two commissioners were sworn in to their first full terms in office Monday, Scott Jenkins and Gage Froerer, as was the new sheriff, Ryan Arbon. The three, all Republicans, won in voting last November and represent a new era of county leadership.
Jenkins, actually appointed to his spot last June, and Froerer replace Kerry Gibson and James Ebert, respectively. Arbon replaces Terry Thompson, the two-term sheriff who didn’t seek reelection.
Jenkins, a former Utah state senator who also previously served as mayor of Plain City and on the city council there, grew up in a home where political matters were a regular topic of discussion. In remarks after being sworn in, he stressed the importance of involvement in government affairs.
“It’s good to serve. This is something we all need to do,” he said. “I always felt like government should work for the people and you should be comfortable being involved with it... We should be comfortable being involved.”
Weber County Republicans appointed Jenkins last June to fill out Gibson’s term after he stepped down to take a Utah Department of Natural Resources post and Tuesday marks the start of his first full term.
In his comments, Froerer, a Huntsville man elected to six terms in the Utah House before deciding to vie last year for county commission, put a focus on maintaining civility even in the midst of disagreement. The prior county commission was marked by sharp discord and tension on certain issues.
“I know that it’s not always possible to agree on every aspect, every issue. In fact, in my years in the legislature, I found it healthy to have disagreement,” he said, because it led to better legislation. “So disagreement is never bad. But what we have to learn is we can disagree without it being disagreeable and that’s what you have my pledge on today.”
Arbon, who is from North Ogden and served as police chief in Perry in Box Elder County before winning the sheriff’s spot, said his focus will be elevating officers. He recalled a recent query from the public, someone wondering how many deputies and officers would be working under him.
“And my answer was none. I work for them, and that’s the way this office is going to be. In my administration, in this sheriff’s office, the officer comes first, the sheriff’s office comes first. When you take care of them and their families, then the service for the residents will accelerate at a high level,” he said. Law enforcement, he continued, “has been kicked in the teeth a bit lately, and that’s why I’m going to change our priorities.”
Also sworn in at Monday’s ceremony at the Weber Center in downtown Ogden were Clerk-Auditor Ricky Hatch, elected to his third term in the post last November, and County Attorney Chris Allred, voted in to his second term. Hatch, in his comments, alluded to the strong criticism elected leaders can face as public officials.
“I’ve been called a communist, a jerk, inconsiderate, a limp noodle and a flaming liberal. And that’s just at the grocery store,” he joked. “I’m making it sound way worse than it really is. Public service is tremendously rewarding and I absolutely love serving the people of Weber County.”
Brent Taylor, the late mayor of North Ogden, killed last November while serving with the Utah Army National Guard in Afghanistan, came up at Monday’s meeting. Froerer lauded his service and Arbon said Taylor had encouraged him to run.
His widow, Jennie Taylor, attended Monday’s event and received a standing ovation from those on hand, numbering around 200.