ST. GEORGE – County Administrator Dean Cox was honored for 30 years of service to Washington County Tuesday at a regular County Commission meeting. Cox is retiring after three decades of volunteering and working for the county.
“It’s kind of strange having him sit back there (in the audience),” quipped Commissioner Victor Iverson.
“It’s wonderful,” replied Cox.
“There are some elements of the work I’m not going to miss,” Cox said, “but the fellow co-workers I’ve spent so many years and weeks and hours with, I’m going to miss dearly.”
Commissioner Alan Gardner said Cox is intelligent, well respected and has represented Washington County well for many years.
“It’s been really good to work with him,” Gardner said. “He’s a very good businessman and understands a lot of things. Somebody described him to me … ‘he knows more about more things than anybody I know.'”
“He’s really intelligent and got a lot of knowledge it’s been very helpful in a lot of the issues that have come up that we’ve had to address.”
Now that he’s retired, Cox said he will be spending more time with his family and at his cabin in Kolob. Being a licensed pilot, he also plans to do more flying.
Cox may not be retired for long, however, as he is also running for Washington County Commission. The seat will be vacated by Commissioner Alan Gardner who is retiring at the end of 2016. One of the biggest reasons for retiring now is to allow him to spend more time on his campaign, Cox said.
Cox defeated Gil Almquist to become the Republican nominee in a very close primary June 28, winning by a slim margin of 114 votes. Cox will face independent candidates Josh Warburton and Greg Aldred in the November general election.
He planned to resign no matter the outcome of the election, Cox said. He has been involved in politics for many years, including serving as the chair of the Washington County Republican Party. However, this is Cox’s first run for public office.
Whether or not he wins the election, Cox said he will continue to serve on the boards of the Hurricane Valley Fire Department and the Utah Communications Authority as well as the Governor’s broadband committee, he said.
Career of service
Cox has worked with and for the county in various capacities since the mid-1980s. He has experience in electronics, held a broadcast engineering license and was a ham radio operator. In 1986, Cox began volunteering as the county emergency communications director, coordinating ham radio operators throughout the county, he said.
In 1991, the county started paying him $200 per month for a part-time position as emergency management coordinator, a position which became full time in 2003.
“By then we’d had 9/11 and emergency management was becoming a full-fledged, first-responder-type profession,” Cox said.
Cox helped create the Southwest Regional Response Team and was elected founding chairman of that organization. The response team is still the organization which coordinates hazmat responses in Southern Utah. He was also chair of the state emergency management advisory board.
In March 2009, the county commissioners offered Cox the position of county administrator.
“And so I stepped away from the emergency management duties … Pete Kuhlman was eventually hired to replace me,” Cox said, “and then I was able to concentrate all of my efforts on being the county administrator.”
St. George News Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this article.
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