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ASSESSOR QUITS AMID BAD-CHECK FLAP

Weber County Assessor Steven Bexell, who admitted he wrote more than $30,000 in bad checks from his office, announced Monday he was resigning, effective immediately.

"The people that elected me have made it known through different sources their vision of me as an elected official, as a trusted public servant, has been tarnished," said Bexell, a nine-year incumbent.Bexell, 39, disclosed last week he had written about 200 bad personal checks in his office totaling more than $30,000 and cashed the checks for personal use. Ogden police are investigating.

After his admission, the Weber County Commission was flooded with telephone calls from angry citizens calling for Bexell's resignation. The assessor said he would not resign or take a leave of absence.

On Monday, Bexell said his family had supported his initial decision to stay in office, but he does not want them to "suffer the public outcry that has been present throughout this ordeal."

The county assessor is paid $49,168 a year, plus $250 a month for expenses.

Referring to Bexell's decision to resign, County Commission Chairwoman Joan Hellstrom said, "I admire what he did."

Hellstrom attended a private meeting with Bexell, his wife Colleen, other county commissioners, and staff members and close friends, most of whom left teary-eyed.

A Standard-Examiner reporter and photographer were asked to leave the meeting due to its "highly emotional" topic and because the media's presence made them "uncomfortable."

When it was pointed out that anytime two or more commissioners meet, it is considered a public meeting, officials said Bexell would meet one at a time with the commissioners. The newspaper representatives then agreed to leave the meeting if Bexell would speak with them afterward.

Bexell said he planned to meet with the rest of his staff to announce his resignation.

He stressed his actions in "no way, shape, or form" reflect the competence of the county assessor's office.

"The problem that I have created has been mine alone, and I will try and resolve the situation created by the problem as best I can," he said.

Under Utah law, the Democratic Party's county central committee will meet and choose three nominees to replace Bexell, a Pleasant View Democrat who has been assessor since 1983. The County Commission will then make the final selection.

Hellstrom said the commission may name a temporary replacement until an appointee is named.