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Senate panel unanimously OKs Bell

Utah Lieutenant Governor nominee Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, left, is congratulated by Gov. Gary Herbert after Bell received a unanimous recommendation for the post from a Senate committee Thursday.
Utah Lieutenant Governor nominee Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, left, is congratulated by Gov. Gary Herbert after Bell received a unanimous recommendation for the post from a Senate committee Thursday.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah lieutenant governor nominee Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, was unanimously recommended by a Senate committee Wednesday and is widely expected to receive full support when the body convenes Tuesday for a final confirmation proceeding.

Gov. Gary Herbert testified on behalf of the person he chose to occupy the No. 2 seat in the executive office, a process that included winnowing a list that initially contained 26 names.

"We had lot of great, qualified men and women in this state that could … work in the Herbert administration," Herbert said. "But who bubbled to the top and seemed to fit with my demeanor … is Greg Bell."

Herbert outlined the significance of the office, listing the responsibilities that come with the post and highlighting the important role Bell is likely to play as a liaison between the governor and the Legislature.

"Knowing there's going to be times when we disagree on issues … he will be a conduit of information where we will be able to at least understand each other's positions, do it in a respectful way and avoid misunderstanding getting in the way of things getting done," Herbert said.

Bell was praised roundly by members of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee in a brief hearing.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said Bell was an articulate and passionate member of the body, whose presence will be missed.

"Sen. Bell has been pivotal in setting the course, not only for the Senate, but for the state of Utah," Bramble said.

Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake, recalled working with Bell as a community advocate before winning her Senate seat in 2008 and recognized his willingness to "listen to everyone's voice and opinion."

After the committee's vote, Bell thanked his Senate colleagues and identified his new boss as the perfect executive for a state that is facing virtually unprecedented fiscal challenges.

"At this juncture, I am so glad that Gary Herbert comes forward," Bell said. "It is such a fortuitous moment that the man meets the hour."

Bell, 60, is a lawyer and real estate developer who previously served as a Farmington councilman, was mayor of that Davis County city for eight years and is nearing the end of his second four-year term as a senator for Fruit Heights.

The Senate will convene in a special session on Sept. 1 to vote on Bell's appointment.

e-mail: araymond@desnews.com