Utah Co. Commission ends fight with governor over UTA board pick

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah County commissioners held a meeting inside Governor Gary Herbert’s office to pick a candidate that would end a lawsuit and a political feud over the Utah Transit Authority.

Utah County Commissioners Nathan Ivie and Bill Lee leave a meeting with Governor Gary Herbert on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

The commission met with the governor and Tooele County commissioners behind closed doors initially to settle on a nominee to UTA’s newly restructured board. It would also end a lawsuit the Utah County Commission filed against the governor, challenging his authority to reject their previous pick.

During the public portion of the meeting, they nominated J. Kent Millington, a former member of the Utah Transportation Commission, to represent Utah and Tooele counties.

“In government we have to come to a certain amount of compromise and to do so you have to have communication and a little bit of compromise with it. I think that’s where we’re at,” Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee told reporters afterward.

Gov. Herbert was sued by Utah County after he previously rejected commissioners’ picks to serve on the commission that replaces the UTA board, which was overhauled by the legislature after a series of controversies. The governor called the choices unqualified and insisted Tooele County have more say; Utah County’s commissioners insisted his power only allowed him to advance them.

After Monday’s meeting, Gov. Herbert embraced Millington as the compromise pick.

UTA nominee J. Kent Millington (left) and Governor Gary Herbert. (Photo courtesy Gov. Herbert’s office)

“From the very beginning of this process, I have asked for consensus nominees who have the trust and confidence of the counties and cities served by UTA,” he said in a statement. “I am grateful that the Utah and Tooele County Commissioners found such a consensus nominee in Kent Millington. Kent brings deep understanding about the challenges and opportunities associated with Utah’s unprecedented growth as well as deep knowledge about Utah transportation issues. I look forward to his rapid confirmation by the Utah Senate and his service on the UTA Board.”

Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie said they would drop the lawsuit on Tuesday.