Utah Governor-elect Spencer Cox maps out first steps to lead in 2021

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, GOP nominee for governor, waits to speak at a press conference outside of the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. On Monday, Cox and his running mate, state Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, were declared the winners in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox waits to speak at a press conference outside of the Capitol in Salt Lake City in July. On Thursday, Cox and his running mate, state Sen. Deidre Henderson, announced their transition team following their win in Utah’s gubernatorial race. | Yukai Peng, Deseret News

Transition team members announced

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert said he will spend the coming weeks working with his successor, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, to transition to a new gubernatorial administration before Cox is due to take the helm of the state Jan. 4.

Herbert, in a transition team announcement Thursday from the state Capitol, said the emergence of a new administration after more than 11 years of his leadership will be smooth and a model of cooperation.

“I believe Utah made a great choice,” Herbert said. “I also believe that Utah has the opportunity to show the nation by example how transitions take place.”

The Cox/Henderson team announced that Jon Pierpont, former executive director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services, will be appointed into the joint role of chief of staff and chief operating officer beginning in January. Jennifer Napier-Pearce, former executive editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, will be appointed as senior adviser to the governor and director of communications.

“They are the right people to help us lead Utah into the future,” Cox said.

Pierpont has been serving in the lieutenant governor’s office since July and stepped in temporarily as interim chief of staff and then as a senior adviser to Cox.

As executive editor of the Tribune, Napier-Pearce led the newspaper’s transition from a for-profit business to a nonprofit entity, the first newspaper to do so in the United States. During her tenure there, the Utah newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2017.

Lynne Ward, former deputy chief of staff for former Utah Gov. Olene Walker, and Steve Starks, chief executive officer of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, will serve as co-chairpersons of the transition effort. Other members include Austin Cox, Natalie Gochnour and Rich McKeown.

Henderson, a Utah state senator representing Spanish Fork since 2013, said the new administration will be examining three key areas in the coming weeks that include a review of state government agencies and the development of policy priorities.

To that end, Cox and Henderson announced they are assembling a team of more than 100 community leaders with broad expertise.

Leading and participating in various committee efforts are Pamela Atkinson, Bonnie Jean Beesley, Mark Bouchard, Jeff Burningham, Lisa-Michele Church, Amanda Covington, Sophia DiCaro, Kristen Edwards, Francine Giani, Mia Love, Susan Madsen, Crystal Maggelet, Lavanya Mahate, Steve Neeleman, Val Oveson, Jon Pike, Lester Rojas, Byron Russell, Aimee Winder Newton, Heidi Walker and Thomas Wright.

More will be enlisted over the next several days.

This story will be updated.

Amy Joi O’Donoghue



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