SALT LAKE CITY — Greg Bell’s resignation as the state’s lieutenant governor on Monday has been greeted with praise but a tinge of sadness that he will be out of the public eye.
“I think Greg has been a great example of integrity in politics,”s,” said Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross. “I have personally strived to follow the path that he’s blazed over the years.”
Bell, who turns 65 in October, cited a need to shore up his family’s financial situation as he looks toward retirement and paying off some business-related debt.
“All of us baby boomers have to have enough money to retire, enough resources in place in advance of that,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Clipper.
According to utahsright.com Bell receives $143,000 in salary and benefits.
“I’m still servicing some business debt and didn’t want to be in the position of a personal storm in two to three years,” Bell said.
He didn’t give specifics on the debt but said the economic downturn took its toll on him. Bell was involved in real estate development prior to being picked by Gov. Gary Herbert to fill the lieutenant governor’s role in 2009.
Herbert held that spot previously but moved to the state’s top elected position when former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. was tapped by Pres. Obama to fill the position of ambassador to China.
Bell said an investigation by the Davis County Attorney’s office earlier this year “did not have a lot of influence” on his decision.
The investigation centered on allegations he had used his political position to influence a child-protection case involving a friend who was also a member of his LDS ward. In August, the county attorney said no charges would be pursued.
“No one likes to be investigated,” Bell said. “I was not concerned. It didn’t drive my decision.”
Working full-time in public service over the past four years was new to Bell, but public service was not.
“I was trying to get sidewalks on Main Street (Farmington) for my kids to get to school,” he said, after school buses no longer serviced his neighborhood.
Bell ran for Farmington city council in 1989 and won, filling one term from 1990 to 1994. He was then elected mayor, and served in that position until 2002.
Next, he was elected to the Utah State Senate, representing District 22, and was Assistant Majority Whip in 2008 and 2009.
“I tried to be a public servant with emphasis on ethics,” Bell said. “I tried not to exploit or exploit for my own advantage of position.”
His SB 156 passed in the 2008 legislative session, lowering the disclosure threshold on gifts and meals for legislators.
“What a good, upright guy he is. County Commission Chair John Petroff said.
Bell has also had support from Washington, D.C.
“He has epitomized dedication and a commitment to our state,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Bell will serve until Gov. Herbert names a replacement.