Bountiful Councilmember Holbrook heads Utah League of Cities and Towns
by Tom HARALDSEN
BOUNTIFUL—It’s safe to say that Beth Holbrook wears a lot of hats. As a member of the Bountiful City Council, she is committee chair for Parks, Recreation and Arts budgets, as well as a member of the Power Commission. In her daytime profession, she is the Public Sector Manager for Waste Management. And this year, she is serving in an even busier role–President of the Executive Board for the Utah League of Cities and Towns.
Keeping busy is nothing new to Holbrook, who has been involved in public service for many years both here in Utah and in California. Her four-year commitment to ULCT has included stints as 2nd vice president, vice president, her current duties as president, and a final year in leadership as past president once her term expires.
“The League is almost 100 years old,” she said. “One of our primary duties is to represent the league members in any legislative matters. Any bill that could potentially have impacts on the cities we represent is important to us, and we are significantly a lobbying arm on behalf of those cities and towns.”
The League has a membership of 247 cities and towns. It has a full-time staff based in Salt Lake City that interacts with cities on long-term strategies, such as on water and transportation issues. Holbrook said cities often have staff members work with the League to “determine the best way for legislation to work if it becomes an issue.” She said former Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy was involved with ULCT for many years “because he felt it was a viable way to make sure legislation could be mostly positive in terms of impact.” Current city manager Gary Hill is also an active member with a connection to the organization’s work.
ULCT’s Legislative Policy Committee meets every other month leading up to the State Legislature’s sessions, which begin next week. During the legislature, the LPC meets weekly.
“We highlight legislation that’s impactful, watch what bills are coming to the floor, and keep an eye on any bill that needs watching,” she said.
She joined the League on her own–there was no assignment from the city council–because “as an elected official, I want to stay involved. I just felt it was something I wanted to do and that I’d be good at. [Former Bountiful] Mayor Joe Johnson was a previous president as well. It’s somewhat of a tradition in Bountiful to be very involved in the League.”
One thing that attracted her to the League was “it builds and strengthens all the relationships, so that there’s an opportunity to make sure all the cities and towns are fully aware and involved in the process. Not every piece of legislation is a gem–and you do have to figure out how a bill or action will impact any city. My position helps Bountiful to stay involved with the dialogue. Having that ability is advantageous to our city.”
In her role with Waste Management, she is similarly engaged with all the cities along the Wasatch Front on various issues.
“I interact with elected officials and their staffs in regards to garbage and recycling and/or green waste if they have it,” she said. “It’s insightful in many ways.”
Born in Sandy, Holbrook attended the University of Utah and eventually moved to San Juan Capistrano in California. She moved to Bountiful and was appointed to the city’s Planning Commission in July 2007. That November, she was elected to the council, taking the seat of former councilmember Barbara Holt, who did not seek re-election. This is her third term, having won reelection in 2015.
As this year’s Utah Legislature convenes, Holbrook’s biggest concern is “making sure the small local voices are heard. Citizens don’t want legislation that impacts their opportunity to choose. We want the legislature to recognize and work towards understanding the local solution. They will be making decisions that will affect cities for the next 20 years—not just necessarily tomorrow. How do we manage that, how do we work together to reach a balanced solution for the future growth we know we are going to have? I want the legislature to be a partner in that. The more we can look at solutions that will be advantageous for the majority of the people, the better off we’ll be.”