Gary Herbert was once ranked No. 1 in the 35-open category by the Utah Tennis Association. He was also named by his peers the top real estate agent in the state. But those accolades can't compare with his greatest achievement: his family.
"They're not perfect, but they're all trying to do the right thing," he said. Herbert and his wife, Jeanette, have six children: three boys and three girls. The children range in age from a senior at Brigham Young University to an eighth-grader at Lakeridge Junior High in Orem.A Utah County commissioner for six years, Herbert, 49, Orem, enjoys tennis, waterskiing and most other sports with his family. Since family is so important, Herbert says, Utah County is the perfect place to live.
"I've come to appreciate how wonderful our quality of life is here," he said. "We have a real jewel here."
Herbert is seeking re-election to the County Commission, and his next step is a primary battle Thursday against fellow Republican Jim Larsen.
Herbert cites Utah County's low crime rate and high percentage of two- parent families as two reasons why he has chosen to stay in the county where he was born and raised. However, Herbert says, the benefits the county offers don't come without a price.
"Service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy," he said. "Unless people get involved and step up, the result is going to be bad government. I think people need to be involved."
Herbert's own involvement has included an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the Orem City Council, six years on the County Commission and - what Herbert is perhaps most proud of - a 100 percent voting record. "I have voted every year since I was eligible," he said.
A self-described workaholic, Herbert says 50- to 60-hour work weeks as a county commissioner are both draining and rewarding. When not working on county business, Herbert likes to exercise, read about current events and politics and cheer on his children
at athletic events.
While growing up, Herbert couldn't imagine himself as a politician. He did, however, enjoy examining both sides of an issue and discussing them with others.
Herbert's work in real estate and his experience lobbying for personal property rights in Washington, D.C., started him on the road to professional politics.
When Herbert's real-estate holdings were wiped out during tough economic times in the 1980s, he began examining the local economy to find ways to help it flourish. Herbert ran for the Orem City Council in 1989. Although he lost, Herbert was still interested in getting involved, and was appointed to a County Commission seat in 1990. As a commissioner, Herbert says he has accomplished many of his goals.
"My strength is the ability to build consensus," he said. "I'm able to delegate and bring in the quality people we need on the job."
Herbert says he supports conservative Republican principles, and he named Ronald Reagan as one of his political role models.
"He was able to bring people together in a positive vein for the good of the whole," Herbert said. "When he talked, he talked to your soul because he had character."
Herbert doesn't rule out the possibility of someday returning to real estate full time, or even making a bid to get on the national political scene.
However, as he seeks to become the Republican Party's candidate for the County Commission seat he now holds, Herbert's efforts are directed toward only one end. "I want to make sure the quality of life I took for granted while growing up is maintained," he said.