With March behind us we’re three months into a new year, and three months into a newly constituted Kane County Commission. Two of three commission seats changed hands at the end of 2022, and the last ninety days have seen returning commissioner Wade Heaton take the chair to work with freshmen commissioners Patty Kubeja and Celeste Meyeres. In the interest of touching base with these public servants after the first quarter of 2023, I asked each of them three questions. Their answers are below.
Q: It’s a new commission and a new year. How are things going?
Heaton: “The new commission is really working hard to operate as a team and work together. Commissioners Meyeres and Kubeja are putting in significant time and effort to get up to speed quickly and learn their role as commissioners.”
Kubeja: “The new year started out on a fast roll. In Utah, the General Legislative Session starts on the last Monday of [January] and runs for 45 days. I was unfamiliar with the legislative process, so everything was new. It is something you must experience in person to really appreciate. Luckily, with technology there are ways to keep abreast of what is happening on the hill, but nothing can compare to being there. In politics it is definitely all about who you know, and meeting people face to face at the Legislative Session was invaluable. I have been busy getting familiar with all my areas of responsibilities. There are still people to meet, places to visit and things to learn to best serve the citizens of Kane County.”
Meyeres: “It’s going GREAT! We’re three months in, and I am so proud to be part of a team of folks who are absolutely dedicated to being of good service and functioning in coordination. It’s my perception that we’re dedicated to understanding one another, and to being respectful even when there are disagreements. I’ve been just blown away by the generosity of spirit which I’ve experienced.”
Q: What have you enjoyed the most about your role as a commissioner this year?
Heaton: “The commissioners were all very involved in the 2023 Legislative Session and saw considerable favorable results for Kane County. It was great to be a part of that process and learn better how it works. It is always great to work with our Kane County employees. Kane County is blessed to have great employees that keep our county running smoothly and serving the public.”
Kubeja: “The best part of being a Kane County Commissioner is getting to meet the citizens and gain a greater understanding of our communities and their needs. I learn something new about Kane County every day. I have gained a greater appreciation for the teamwork required from all walks of life that has made Kane County the “magical” place it is and why people choose to live here. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to attend meetings in every community, but it is on my, “to do” list. I do appreciate everyone who has reached out to me personally with their concerns. Together we will make Kane County stronger.”
Meyeres: “Getting to know County staff, fellow elected officials, and jumping headfirst into the day-to-day work of being a Commissioner! I feel that 2022 was a year-long job interview with the People of Kane County. I’m so grateful to have, in the end, been the one to be chosen to serve for, at the least, the next four years. I have a huge smile on my face every day, it is both an honor and a joy to fill this role. I feel that now that the election is out of the way, that instead of just talking, I can buckle in and actually DO what’s needed.”
Q: What are you excited about for the rest of the year?
Heaton: “The commission has several loose ends that we have been working on for many months and I am looking forward to tying some of them up and finishing current projects like organizing fire protection districts, helping communities gain some local control through SSDs and incorporation. Also, the commission is going to start having regular townhall meetings again and I look forward to the exchange of ideas with the public.”
Kubeja: “I am looking forward to continued teamwork with the other commissioners and community members as we tackle difficult county issues together. We have a very talented county community with varied backgrounds and experiences that should be used in solving the problems we face. The three big issues that continue to be brought to my attention by concerned citizens are fire protection, road maintenance and growth. I am committed to making these issues a priority and finding a solution together with the other commissioners and the community members that works for Kane County.”
Meyeres: “I’ve got my sights set on diving in even more deeply with my existing assignments, such as interfacing with Utah and United States legislatures, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, National Forest Service, Utah State Parks, SITLA, the municipalities within Kane County (Kanab, Alton, Glendale, Orderville/Mt Carmel and Big Water), our School District, etc.
“I guess this makes me a political geek, but I find it thrilling to figure out the inner workings of each agency, and how we might solve problems and tackle challenges together.
“I’m very excited about the possibility of developing close, working relationships with the superintendents of Zion and Grand Canyon (especially North Rim). Goals are to form inter-local and inter-agency agreements to prevent or shorten any potential, full or partial park closures. The ultimate objective is both parks being open year-round, despite obstacles presented by weather, infrastructure limitations, or natural events.”
Thank you for your time and for sharing your thoughts, commissioners – we appreciate your service.