ST. GEORGE – Earlier this week, county officials announced the resignation of Denny Drake from the Washington County Board of Commissioners. Drake has accepted a call to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Texas, which requires him to relocate for the tenure of his service. His resignation opens a temporary vacancy on the Board of Commissioners that could be filled by an interim appointee as early as next week.
“It’s been really great working with him,” Commissioner Alan Gardner said.
Gardner confirmed Drake is no longer in Washington County but is in northern Utah receiving instructions for his new position as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Texas.
Though he is out of the county, Drake’s resignation doesn’t officially take effect until 5 p.m. Monday.
The LDS Church announced the calling of new mission presidents the world over on Jan. 11 and listed Drake among them. He was named the new president of the Texas Houston East Mission and will succeed outgoing mission president Thomas J. Crawford. LDS mission presidents generally serve a period of three years. Drake was serving his second term on the County Commission when the church issued the call.
“He was a lot of fun to work with,” County Administrator Dean Cox said of Drake. He said Drake has always been positive and also has a knack for diplomacy.
“He’s a glass-half-full kind of guy and always a person with a lot of skill for diffusing a situation,” Cox said. “I felt he was a great ambassador for the county.”
Drake has filled many responsibilities in his position, including representing the County Commission by serving on various boards, Cox said. Such boards included those focused on solid waste, the shooting sports park, the county fair, homelessness and immigration issues.
“He had a wide variety of duties,” Cox said.
Prior to being elected to the County Commission, Drake served as the mayor of Santa Clara.
Nick Lang, chair of the Washington County Republican Party, has known Drake for several years and said he is “a fine fellow and a leader. He’s always been a very knowledgeable and listening guy.”
With Drake’s departure, it now falls to the Washington County Republican Party executive committee to select an interim appointee. The committee will meet Monday to review the state statute regarding interim appointments and make a selection accordingly, Lang said.
Once selected, the potential appointee will be submitted to the two remaining County Commissioners for ratification.
Drake’s vacated seat could be filled “as early as Tuesday,” Cox said, though he emphasized he doesn’t speak for the county party. When the next County Commission meeting takes place Tuesday at 4 p.m., the interim appointee could be approved by Commissioners Gardner and James Eardley. If an appointee hasn’t been chosen by that time, they’ll simply take care of it in the next County Commission meeting, Cox said.
Whoever is appointed to Drake’s seat will serve the remaining six months of his term. That person will then be succeeded in 2015 by whichever candidate for Commission Seat B is elected in November. The two who will vie for that position are: Democratic candidate and former Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam and Republican candidate Victor Iverson, former natural resources adviser to Sen. Mike Lee.
A new commissioner will also fill Commission Seat A, currently held by Eardley, who lost the Republican nomination for the spot to Zackary Renstrom during the party’s county convention in April. Renstrom will face Democratic challenger Chris White for Seat A in November.
- Van Dam says experience in law qualifies him as best candidate for County Commission Seat B
- White aims for County Commission Seat A
- New commissioner candidates chosen, county attorney race goes to primary
- LDS Church announces 58 new missions to accommodate influx of applicants
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