Less than two months before residents are to select his successor, Tooele Mayor Charlie Roberts is calling it quits.
Roberts announced his resignation, effective Sept. 19, on Tuesday. The two-term mayor is leaving his post to take a job as public information officer for the Utah State Tax Commission.
"Now's the time," the 50-year-old mayor said of his decision to end his final term about three months early.
Roberts had already decided his second term would be his last, and he is not one of the seven candidates who have filed to run in the Oct. 4 primary.
"I had decided four years ago that two terms and I'd be looking for other opportunities," he said.
Under Tooele's form of government, the mayor's position is full-time.
"We've been able to accomplish more than I've ever dreamed possible," he said. "But not just that — it was more of a personal feeling that these mayoral offices are positions of service. They are not meant to be careers."
Roberts has a background in journalism and public relations. He has a degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix but also took classes as a communications major at Brigham Young University. He worked as editor of the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin and has done public relations for USPCI and Laidlaw Environmental.
In his new role, Roberts' two major responsibilities will be publication of the Tax Commission's annual report and communication with the media on tax issues — "the face of the Tax Commission to the community," said Tax Commissioner Palmer DePaulis, who was involved in the hiring process.
"He, as a mayor, has had pretty extensive work in front of the media. We felt very good about that," DePaulis said. "We feel very good about his written materials. One of the critical issues for us is a good writer and researcher. . . . He's a very likable person. But I think the thing that impressed us the most is he's just very straightforward, very honest."
DePaulis said an important function of the commission's PIO is simplifying complex tax issues for the public, and he is confident Roberts has that ability.
Under Tooele's city charter, City Council chairman Mike Johnson will serve as interim mayor for up to 30 days after Roberts quits. During that time, Roberts' replacement will be elected by the City Council from among the current council members. That person will serve as temporary mayor until the end of the year, when the candidate elected in November's general election will take over.
"My guess is we will probably end up selecting an interim mayor at our next interim meeting" on Sept. 21, Johnson said. "In the meantime, I'll just muddle through and do what we have to do. . . . It's only a temporary situation. I'm glad it's not a year or two we have to worry about it."
Johnson said city officials are sad to see Roberts go, but they knew he would be leaving at the end of the year, anyway.
"The mayor served the city well for almost eight years. I'm happy for him," Johnson said. "He's a good man, and we'll miss him. We thank him for all he's done and wish him all the best. I know he'll succeed."
Roberts said he has enjoyed his time as mayor and is proud of the city's direction under his leadership.
"Tooele is an entirely different city than we were eight years ago," he said. "We've doubled in population. Our biggest challenge was keeping up with residential growth. One of the best things we did — we were able to build a new city hall, library, aquatic center, golf course clubhouse, four or five different parks. And we did that without any property tax increase."
He has lived in Tooele his entire life, except for his time at college and a church mission.
"It's been a great learning experience for me," he said of his time as mayor. "One of the things I learned is just how valuable city employees are. We have 125 full-time employees, and any time you call them they're there to serve."
It is one of those city employees — city recorder Patrick Dunlavy — whom Roberts is backing in November's mayoral race.
"He understands the city. He has also been our project director for three major projects . . . and brought them all in on time and under budget."
But Dunlavy faces six other candidates also vying to take over the mayorship. They are: Steven D. Bevan, Jay Edwin Collier, Tom K. Ellevold, Bobby Joe Main Jr., Ryan Timmins and Russell Winters.
Roberts' salary at the Tax Commission will be $54,142. As mayor, he made $62,258 yearly.