Utah County commissioners Bill Lee and Tom Sakievich voted on Wednesday to approve a resolution appointing Amelia Powers Gardner to the commission, officially making Gardner the first woman to serve on the county governing body.

Gardner, who served as clerk/auditor beginning in 2019, also resigned from her elected position as head of the Utah County Clerk/Auditor’s Office during Wednesday’s commission meeting. She will take the oath of office as commissioner at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Historic Utah County Courthouse in Provo.

The Utah County Republican Party nominated Gardner to fill the vacancy left by Tanner Ainge. During a special election on Saturday, Gardner received 204 of 373 of votes from members of the Utah County Republican Party Central Committee, about 54.7%.

Gardner teared up as she handed the commissioners her resignation notice and had to step away from the commission chamber podium to grab a handful of tissues.

“Utah County is the heart of Utah, but the heart of the Utah County government is the employees of this county,” Gardner said with watery eyes. “And the highlight of my career has, by far, been the two-plus years that I served as the Utah County Clerk/Auditor. And the thing that made that the highlight of my career is the employees here in Utah County.”

She continued, “Not just the employees of the clerk/auditor’s office, but the employees of the entire Utah County government.”

As one of the highlights of her time as clerk/auditor, Gardner pointed to the “amazing” success of the 2020 presidential election, “where Utah County threw away the title of ‘epicenter of dysfunction’ and we are (now) recognized as a national model in elections.”

That success, Gardner said, was the result of a team effort between multiple county departments, including Utah County Information Systems and Public Works.

“The thing that I am most excited about to serve on the commission is that I now get to serve all of the employees of Utah County, as well as all of the citizens of the county. Not just as the clerk/auditor, but to help lead the entire county,” said Gardner.

The new commissioner said she felt “great sadness” stepping down as clerk auditor, noting that she “love(d) it so much I didn’t even really take a maternity leave.”

“But I am so excited to get to lead with you, the entire county,” she said.

The resolution approved by the commission on a 2-0 vote states that Gardner will serve as the “interim replacement for the office of Utah County Commission Seat A to serve out the unexpired term for said office, which expires on January 2, 2023.”

Lee and Sakievich clashed with Gardner recently over a controversial proposal, which was approved and later rescinded, to move county budget staff from under the clerk/auditor’s office to under the commission. Lee congratulated Gardner during Wednesday’s meeting for her nomination to the commission.

Gardner had to undergo workplace harassment training after a Utah County Attorney’s Office investigation, which concluded on April 2, found that she sexually harassed a former employee in 2020.

The commissioners also approved signing a letter giving notice to the Utah County Republican Party of the vacancy of the clerk/auditor office and inviting the county GOP to nominate someone to fill the vacancy. Josh Daniels, Gardner’s deputy, will serve as clerk/auditor during the interim.

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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