At the May 29 meeting in Blanding, Herbert carefully avoided criticizing the current Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. However, he indicated that his administration would move in some different directions.
Herbert accepted the invitation to visit the area before recent events that will result in his taking the reigns of the state as Governor. Governor Jon Huntsman recently accepted an appointment as the United States Ambassador to China. Huntsman is expected to resign as Governor after his appointment is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Herbert will assume the post of Governor upon the resignation of Huntsman.
The meeting took on the feel of a campaign event, which is appropriate since there now will be two elections for Governor in Utah in the next three years. A special election will be held in 2010 before the traditional election is held in 2012.
Herbert outlined the success of the past five years of a Huntsman / Herbert administration. The state has been at or near the top of many nationwide studies, including being named the best managed state in the nation and having the most dynamic economy in the nation.
Herbert discussed a series of issues that would appeal to many San Juan County Republicans, including support for natural resource development, multiple use public lands management, and opposition to wilderness designation.
While discussing the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), Herbert said that even with the current political environment in Washington, D.C., the Red Rock Wilderness Bill is losing momentum. He said this is primarily the result of SUWA’s refusal to compromise.
“If you are not willing to compromise, can you be part of the solution?” Herbert rhetorically asked of SUWA. “Probably not” was the answer.
Herbert called for common sense governance and expressed a belief that as a capitalist, he thought that the market will find solutions to the market’s problems.
Herbert, who served as Utah County Commissioner before being elected to state office, is no stranger to San Juan County. He has visited the area many times in recent year, most recently at the county Republican party organizing convention on May 7.
He has worked closely with Commisioner Lynn Stevens when Stevens served as the state public lands coordinator. He mentioned that the support he has felt since the announcement has been heartwarming.
The meeting was held at the Arts and Events Center at the College of Eastern Utah campus in Blanding. It was co-hosted by San Juan County and the cities of Monticello and Blanding.