Gov. Gary Herbert on Tuesday named Rep. Julie Fisher to head up the Utah Department of Community and Culture as the state agency continues its major restructuring in the wake of tightened budgets.
Fisher submitted her resignation from the Legislature to House Speaker Becky Lockhart. Fisher, a Republican, represented Fruit Heights in Davis County and will take on the role of executive director immediately.
"As a legislator, I have shared the governor's goal of making Utah's state government a model of management and efficiency," Fisher said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to the challenge of helping him to achieve that goal, while preserving and valuing Utah's great cultural heritage."
The DCC consists of six divisions, including Arts and Museums, State History, the State Library, the Office of Ethnic Affairs, the Division of Indian Affairs and Housing and Community Development. Fisher will replace Michael Hansen, who had been the acting director of DCC. Hansen will resume his position as deputy director.
The move comes as departments under the umbrella of DCC are changing leaders and roles in response to Herbert's desire to "optimize state government." Hansen was scheduled to present a report to lawmakers at the end of August with a plan for restructuring DCC.
Already, the Office of Ethnic Affairs has gone through a shakeup, with its budget slashed from $750,000 to $250,000 and Claudia Nakano being named last week to lead that agency. And Herbert named Shirlee Silversmith the director of Indian Affairs in June.
In one of the more controversial moves, the department fired three archaeologists, citing budget cutbacks.
Herbert said in a statement that Fisher was a logical choice to lead the way through a number of changes.
"With her legislative experience, community ties and familiarity with DCC, Julie is uniquely suited to lead the agency to the next level," Herbert said. "She not only understands the state's stewardship role in preserving our unique and invaluable cultural identity, she also appreciates our accountability for every tax dollar as well as the need to examine service models in a meaningful way."
Fisher had served as a state representative since 2004. Among recent bills she sponsored was one barring the state pension fund from investing in companies doing business with Iran and one increasing gubernatorial and legislative oversight of Department of Transportation settlements in bid protests.