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St. George Mayor joins Spencer Cox team
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St. George Mayor, among others announced for Gov-elect Spencer Cox cabinet

Photo credit: City of St. George.

SALT LAKE CITY — The mayor of St. George, Utah, is moving north to join the cabinet of Governor-elect Spencer Cox.

According to the Spectrum, Jon Pike has been appointed as the Commissioner of the Utah Insurance Department. He was one of 19 other cabinet nominations and staff picks announced by the Cox team on Monday.

Pike’s resignation as St. George Mayor becomes effective on the day Spencer Cox and Deidre Henderson are sworn in as Utah’s Governor and Lt. Governor. The Spectrum reports the swearing-in will take place Jan. 4 at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts, in Ivins, Utah.

Some positions in the cabinet of Spencer Cox will remain filled by the person currently doing the job for Utah’s outgoing governor, Gary Herbert. Those people include:

  • Jess Anderson, Commissioner of Public Safety
  • Carlos Braceras, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Transportation
  • Gary Harter, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs
  • Ed Leary, Commissioner of the Utah Department of Financial Institutions
  • Jill Remington Love, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts
  • Jaceson Maughan, Commissioner for the Utah Labor Commission
  • Brian Steed, Executive Director of Utah Department of Natural Resources

New faces in the Spencer Cox administration 

The following appointments have new people at the helm. They are:

Margaret Busse, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce.  She has been working as a social impact and public policy advisor for two Utah-based nonprofits as well as for a gubernatorial campaign.

Nubia Peña, Senior Advisor on Equity and Opportunity and Director of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs. Nubia Peña is currently the director of the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs. In this role, she helped promote a climate of inclusivity for Utah’s growing diverse communities. This was done through training, outreach and youth leadership development.

Craig Buttars, Commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. Craig currently serves as the Cache County Executive. Previously he represented District 3 in the Utah Legislature, where he chaired two House standing committees and was a member of the Natural Resources and Environment Appropriations Committee.

Casey Cameron, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Cameron has served as a deputy director for the Department of Workforce Services since 2012 and has worked in various other capacities for the state of Utah over the past21 years.

Thom Carter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development and Energy Advisor. Carter has served as an elected official in New Jersey, and according to a statement has been involved with initiatives ranging from healthcare to transportation. For the last three years, he has led the Utah Clean Air Partnership.

Tracy Gruber, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Human Services. Right now, Gruber directs the Office of Child Care at the Utah Department of Workforce Services and is a Senior Advisor for the Intergenerational Poverty Initiative.

Brian Nielson, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Corrections. He has served as the Sheriff of Sanpete County for the last ten years.

Jon Pike, Commissioner of the Utah Insurance Department. Pike is currently the Utah operations director for SelectHealth, the health insurance division of Intermountain Healthcare. He has worked in several positions with Intermountain Healthcare since 1990. According to a statement, his career has focused on “physician relations and contracting broker relations, sales management, and government and community liaison.”

Kirsten Rappleye, Director of First Lady Initiatives. In this role, Rappleye will oversee the development and execution of Utah First Lady Abby Cox’s initiatives. Prior to this appointment, Rappleye served as chief of staff to then Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox, coordinating his work on more than 30 boards and commissions 

Jenney Rees, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Administrative Services. Reyes is currently the mayor of Cedar Hills and served on that city’s council for six years. As mayor, she served on multiple committees including the Joint Policy Advisory Committee, the Legislative Policy Committee for the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and the Regional Planning Committee for Mountainland Association of Governments.

Rich Saunders, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Health.  Saunders is currently serving as the Interim Director of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH).  According to a statement, in this role, “Saunders was instrumental in helping to lead the COVID-19 response. In August 2020, he was asked to serve as interim executive director.”

Shelly Smith, Director of Boards and Commissions.  Smith has served in a variety of leadership roles in various organizations including the National Parent Teacher Association, Community Council, Ogden Breakfast Exchange Club, Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, Davis Chamber of Commerce and Ogden Rotary Club.

“After a thorough interview process, I’m convinced each of these candidates will serve the citizens of Utah exceptionally well,” Cox wrote in a press release announcing the 19 appointees. “Each has impeccable qualifications, brings fresh ideas, and most importantly, is devoted to public service. We’re lucky to have such brilliant minds willing to serve the public.”