‘It’s been a phenomenal experience’: Commissioner Cox announces resignation

ST. GEORGE —A meeting of the Washington County Commission turned emotional at the end as Commissioner Dean Cox, who has served the county in many different capacities over three decades, announced he was “stepping back” from his commission seat and resigning.

Washington County Commissioner Dean Cox announced he is resigning from the County Commission for personal and health reasons, St. George, Utah, June 1, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“It’s been a tough decision,” Cox said. “It has been such an honor and a privilege for me to serve with the county for three months shy of 30 years. But it’s become obvious to me that I need to look at the structure of what I am doing and the priorities I have and that I step back from my seat as county commissioner.”

Cox’s resignation takes effect at the end of July, which he said should give the county’s Republican’s Party the time needed to consider candidates for his replacement. Whoever is appointed to replace Cox will serve until the next countywide election cycle in 2022.

As for why Cox, who is 65, is resigning, he cited personal and health reasons and declined to go into further detail.

“It’s with really tough mixed feelings that I make this announcement, but it’s one I’ve done after a lot of thoughtful consideration and consultation with my family and others I trust,” he said.

Cox was elected to the County Commission in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. Prior to that time, he worked for the county as the Washington County Administrator starting in 2009.

Before taking the administrator job, he served in a volunteer, part-time, and then full-time basis for the county in roles related to emergency communications and management that started back in the mid-1980s. These positions had him involved with the county’s search and rescue team and operations on a regular basis.

Washington County Commissioner Dean Cox is embraced by fellow commissioners Gil Almquist and Victor Iverson following the announcement of this resignation, Utah, June 1, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We have to remember that (for) Commissioner Cox, that’s when he came into his service for the county – helping in those search and rescue (operations),” Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “I always think about those people who are willing to get up in the middle of the night in a snowstorm and go rescue a stranger, and that’s the type of service Dean has given this county and given his fellow citizens from the beginning.”

Iverson added, “Being able to serve with him on the County Commission has been a highlight of my service as a county commissioner.”

Gil Almquist also praised Cox for his service and encyclopedia-like understanding of the county and its history, while adding those who have worked with Cox over the last 30 years will miss him greatly.

“I don’t think there will really be enough words to (sum up) over 30 years of experience and contributions from those who know you, who have been influenced by you and see you as an example,” Almquist said.

Iverson and Almquist hugged Cox after he made the announcement. Cox also received a standing ovations for his service from all those attending the meeting.

Washington County Commissioner Dean Cox receives a standing ovation for those attending the county commission meeting, St. George, Utah, June 1, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We have heavy hearts, Dean; and we’ll cherish the days we have (left) together (on the commission),” Almquist said as the meeting came to a close.

Serving as a commissioner has been the capstone of his career, Cox said.

“It’s been a phenomenal experience,” he said.

Cox has dealt with health issues since mid-2019 when he announced he had been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer that attacks bone marrow. He went to Salt Lake City for medical care and a bone marrow transplant in December 2019 and returned home in mid-January 2020.

When he was able, Cox participated in County Commission meetings online through Zoom until he could return to the County Commission in person. He described his immune system as being non-existent at the time due to the cancer treatments he had received yet was working on slowly building back up as he moved forward with his duties as a commissioner.

When asked about previous health concerns, Cox repeated it was due to personal and health issues, yet declined to give further details.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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