New leaders elected in the Utah State Legislature’s Republican majority

SALT LAKE CITY — Following Tuesday’s elections in local races, House and Senate Republicans met on Capitol Hill to pick new leaders.

Rep. Val Peterson (left), Rep. Mike Schultz, Speaker-elect Brad Wilson and Majority Leader-elect Francis Gibson (right) following House leadership elections. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, was elected House Speaker after about an hour’s meeting of the House GOP caucus behind closed doors. Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, was elected Majority Leader; Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper is Majority Whip and Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, was elected Assistant Whip.

Rep. Wilson will replace House Speaker Greg Hughes, who is retiring from the legislature.

“He is a great example to all of us in terms of what it means to be a dedicated public servant,” he said.

Speaking to reporters, the House Majority leadership said their big issues were dealing with growth, education, transportation and air quality.

“We’ll be budgeting for this state’s likely 10th year of expansion next year,” Speaker-elect Wilson said. “That’s unprecedented.”

In the Senate, Majority Whip J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, was elected Senate President. Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, was elected Majority Leader; Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, is Majority Whip and Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, was elected Assistant Majority Whip.

Speaking to reporters after the election, Sen. Adams said education, infrastructure and growth were major topics they were tackling in the upcoming 2019 legislative session.

In a tweet, Governor Gary Herbert offered his congratulations to Republican leaders.

While a little “inside baseball,” the legislative leadership elections also have significant implications for policy and politics statewide. The House and Senate leaders negotiate with each other and the governor over bills, budget and even the overall tone of politics in Utah.

Senate President-elect Stuart Adams (left), Majority Leader-elect Evan Vickers and Majority Whip-elect Dan Hemmert following Senate leadership elections. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Senate Democrats will elect their leadership in a caucus meeting on Friday night. In the most recent election, Kathleen Riebe defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Brian Zehnder in Senate District 8.

The House Minority Caucus has scheduled its leadership elections later this month. House Democrats gained a few seats on Tuesday. Suzanne Harrison won in House District 32 (the Draper area), Andrew Stoddard won in District 44 (Midvale); and LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff won in District 10 (Ogden). Deana Froerer’s race against Republican Steve Waldrip for House District 8 (Weber County) was considered too close to call.