More than two months after North Ogden Mayor and Utah National Guard Maj. Brent Taylor was killed in Afghanistan, the City Council inaugurated and swore in his replacement.
After interviewing five candidates in an open meeting, the council on Tuesday chose Brent Chugg, who had been serving as interim mayor during what was expected to be Taylor’s one-year deployment and who will now carry on in that capacity longer than he expected.
“I found out real quick how big [Taylor’s] shoes are to fill and [I’m] still trying to fill them,” Chugg said during his interview. “And then after he was killed in Afghanistan, I was kind of weighing the situation. Because I knew that in January that would be the end of my responsibilities as mayor because he would be back. And of course that didn’t happen.”
Chugg said he’d never entered the political arena before Taylor asked him to fill in. But after the former mayor’s death, Chugg said city employees and his family had urged him to apply to stay on through the end of 2019, when the seat will be up for election for the last two years of Taylor’s term.
At the time of his death, Taylor, who was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and fourth deployment of his 10-year military career, was part of an operation to train Afghan troops. An Afghan soldier opened fire Nov. 3 while Taylor was on foot patrol, killing him and injuring another soldier, according to the Utah National Guard. Taylor left behind his wife, Jennie, and seven children.
In the face of those unexpected events, North Ogden resident Mike St. James told the City Council in a public comment before the interviews that he would like to see Chugg carry on in the position.
“I think he’s been a steady hand at the helm,” he said, noting that Chugg has some of the same qualities that had led him to support Taylor.
During his interview, Chugg also drew parallels between himself and Taylor and indicated his commitment to carry forward the former mayor’s policies.
“North Ogden has become a very progressive city under the direction of Mayor Taylor,” he said. “And I’ve been really inspired by the things he accomplished in that regard — getting new business located and so forth. And I recognize we need to have additional business located in North Ogden in order to help us with our tax base. So I would think that we need to work on getting new business and keeping it confined to the areas we have commercial zoning.”
After he was unanimously chosen as mayor and sworn in, Chugg took his seat once again at the dais with the rest of the council members.
“OK,” he said. “Back in the saddle.”