What is in your background, experience and philosophy that will help you succeed as a commissioner?
Oct 17, 2012 | 541 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gail L. Johnson: Candidate, San Juan County Commission, Dist. 1

All the experiences in my life have become part of who I am and have helped frame my opinions and beliefs. All will help me succeed as a commissioner.

Born and raised in San Juan County, I grew up on a cattle ranch where my parents expected everyone in the family to work together and help the family business succeed. I was taught a strong work ethic and a love for the land that has stayed with me all my life. Early on, I learned that the work went better if we all did our part. I also learned at an early age where our money came from and why it was important to be wise in using money.

I graduated from Monticello High School, Stevens Henager Business College, and Utah State University. During my college years, I was involved in various activities, such as the Ag Council. I also joined the U.S. Army Reserves. This was a great way to help with my college expenses, and it gave me the opportunity to serve my country at the same time. It was an honor to serve in the small way that I did.

In 1973, I had the privilege of working as a committee secretary at the Utah legislature when Calvin Black of Blanding was our state representative. I often flew home on weekends with him and his wife, Carolyn. Needless to say, this was an educational experience for me, not only working at the legislature, but in sharing opinions with Calvin on important issues. We didn’t always agree, but he taught me that people can disagree without being disagreeable.

Nearly 10 years later, Calvin and Phil Acton, Sr. asked me to run for county clerk/auditor. I served two terms and worked closely with the commissioners over those years, Calvin Black, Bill Redd, Ken Bailey, Jerry Holliday, Bob Low, Ty Lewis, and Mark Maryboy. I was appointed by the commissioners in 1984 as chairman of the San Juan chapter of the Western Association of Land Users to help rural counties fight Congressman Wayne Owens’ bill to designate large areas of southern Utah as wilderness. The bill never passed, but the fight is ongoing to keep our public lands in multiple use.

I have volunteered on several BLM cooperative resource management groups, taught school six years, and I currently serve on the board for the San Juan Health Service District.

My husband, Sandy, and I ranch in the White Canyon area, along with our son and his family. Sandy is a board member of the Southeast Utah Grazing Board. I handle the board’s financial and clerical work.

In 2010, I was disappointed when our county commission asked ranchers to voluntarily nominate areas for wilderness in the commission’s desire to “compromise” with some environmental groups. I felt this was a dangerous position for the county to take since these groups were giving up nothing in this “compromise”, as well as leaving other groups free to continue obstructing land uses. Access to land is vital to the economy.

The county commission in the 1990’s spent thousands of dollars documenting 7,000 miles of county roads along with evidence of human activity (over 12,000 pictures) using GPS technology. This information should be used in the fight against the closure or limiting access to public lands, not ignored and false compromises made.

My experience with private businesses and land owners is the reason I join in their concern over the county spending more money than it has brought in over the past 8-10 years. Purchases of road materials are not the reason as the road fund is in good shape. The county’s cash reserves were built up by conservative commissioners for times when our property values would be falling so the county could still maintain services. Since property values are on the rise, we should be building, or at least stabilizing, our cash reserves, not spending them down.

It has been my privilege to work with and learn from many good people. I have learned that successful public officials are successful because they cooperate with co-workers and welcome public input. They share the credit when good things happen and take responsibility when things may not work out so well. They tend to business in the county as much as public opportunities outside the county.

I love San Juan County. It is my home by birth. It is my home by choice.
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