Utah representative from Herriman to step down, citing his busy job and travel schedule

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Rep. John Knotwell, shown during discussion of legislation in the Feb. 13, 2019, file photo, is resigning his seat less than halfway through his 2-year term. He says his full-time job keeps him too busy and involves too much travel to devote the attention his legislative position deserves.

Utah Rep. John Knotwell will resign from the state Legislature at the end of September, the second member of his chamber to step down in as many months.

“A citizen Legislature comes with its challenges for many of its members — one of them being a necessary commitment to full-time employment,” the Herriman Republican said in a prepared statement issued Wednesday. “[M]y employment requires significant time and traveling and schedule that will not permit time to serve in this capacity.”

Formerly the chief executive officer of the Utah Technology Council, Knotwell since April has worked as senior vice president of worldwide sales for a social media software company called Nuvi, according to his LinkedIn page. Knotwell said while he wasn’t necessarily ready to leave public office, his new job made it impossible to stay in the elected position.

But he’s not ruling out an eventual return to politics, he said in a phone interview.

“I’m a young guy — don’t let the gray hair scare you,” the 41-year-old said. “There’s a lot of life left, and I would never take that off the table.”

House leadership issued a warm statement of farewell and thanks for Knotwell’s service.

"Since his election in 2012, John has been an important part of this institution," House Speaker Brad Wilson said in a prepared statement. "Despite his absence, his presence and leadership will be felt for years to come."

Knotwell has served on committees dealing with business and labor, government operations, law enforcement and criminal justice and higher education appropriations, according to a news release.

He also was the sponsor of a controversial bill to give EnergySolutions, the low-level radioactive waste disposal company, a $1.7 million annual break on state fees. The legislation passed in 2018, a year after EnergySolutions ranked as the No. 1 campaign donor to lawmakers, including $6,000 in donations to Knotwell.

At the news of Knotwell’s departure, former Democratic Utah Sen. Jim Dabakis tweeted that his one-time colleague was a “nice guy.”

“Also father of the grand taxpayer $1.7 million annual forever gift to EnergySolutions,” Dabakis tweeted. “John got $6K donation from ES. He is gone but his gift endures.”

The outgoing representative said some of his proudest legislative accomplishments include his work on digital technology in the classroom and proposals aimed at increasing government transparency for municipalities and school districts. He noted that he also sponsored a measure to allow voters to post pictures of their ballots — or “ballot selfies.”

“It’s honestly been the greatest privilege of my life to represent District 52, and I will miss it,” he said.

The Salt Lake County Republican Party will handle the process of picking Knotwell's replacement.

Former Utah Rep. Ken Ivory last month announced he was leaving the Legislature, later disclosing that he was resigning to take a top-ranking job at a Lehi tech company. Ivory, R-West Jordan, had previously helped hire the company, Geomancer, on a legislative commission contract and helped secure thousands of state dollars for it.

Ivory’s replacement, Steve Christiansen, was sworn in earlier this week to complete the roughly 16 months remaining on the term.