Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner took the oath of office on Thursday during a ceremony at the Historic Utah County Courthouse in Provo.

Gardner, who resigned from her position as clerk/auditor after winning a special election to fill a vacancy left by Tanner Ainge, was sworn in by interim Clerk/Auditor Josh Daniels.

Gardner is the first woman to serve on the Utah County Commission, which she called “an honor” during a speech after taking the oath of office.

“But I am hardly the first woman to lead from Utah County,” she said. “Utah County has led with distinction for generations. We’ve led every level of government.”

Gardner referenced former and current female Utah County lawmakers, including former House Speaker Becky Lockhart, former 4th District Rep. Mia Love and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, as well as female mayors and city councilmembers. But she added that elected officials are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

“There are also school volunteers, community leaders, teachers, good neighbors, but most of all, the moms. These are the true leaders in Utah County, and without them, we would be lost,” she said. “It is incredibly humbling to be in a position to serve with the thousands of women who are seldom known outside of their communities, classrooms or families. Those are the true leaders in Utah County and they deserve our thanks.”

Gardner also spoke about the “challenges” that Utah County faces with its rapid population growth, including how to continue growing “without losing what makes Utah County the place that everyone wants to be.”

She said the county can get through these challenges with “energy, creativity and innovation while holding fast to the timeless principles that got us here.”

“Most of you know that I brought that to a county clerk/auditor’s office that had struggled and fallen behind,” the new commissioner said. “You know that I will do my best to bring that same energy, creativity and innovation to the county as a whole. That is why I ran, and I believe that is why I was elected.”

Gardner told the audience that she knows Utah County “on many levels” and shared her experience growing up as the youngest of five siblings with a single mother who was disabled, something she said “gives me special insight and compassion for those who struggle.”

“We found ourselves literally homeless for a period of time, right here in Utah County,” she said. “Please stop and think about that. I just took the oath of office to be a county commissioner in the same county that I spent periods of time as a child homeless in.”

The ceremony took place a day after commissioners Bill Lee and Tom Sakievich voted 2-0 to approve Gardner’s nomination to the commission by the Utah County Republican Party. She replaces Ainge, who resigned in March after failing to submit post-arrival notice for his military training.

Also on Wednesday, the two commissioners voted to approve sending a letter to the Utah County Republican Party notifying the party of the vacancy of the clerk/auditor position and inviting the party to nominate someone to fill the vacancy.

Gardner was elected to the vacant commission seat by the Utah County Republican Party Central Committee during the county GOP’s entirely virtual convention on Saturday. Gardner received 204 of 373 votes, about 54.7%.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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