One of eight Utah Republicans will be the state’s next treasurer, following the unexpected resignation of David Damschen last month.
Damschen, who won re-election to his second full term in November, left the job in April to be CEO of the nonprofit Utah Housing Association. Gov. Spencer Cox named chief deputy state treasurer Kirt Slaugh as acting treasurer until a replacement is chosen.
The field of candidates includes a current and former member of the Utah Legislature.
Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, made national headlines in 2015 for leading an illegal ATV ride through Recapture Canyon. He was pardoned by former President Donald Trump late last year. Lyman is in his second term in the Utah House and previously served on the San Juan County Commission. Lyman is also a CPA who owns his own firm.
Former State Sen. Brian Zehnder has also put his name in contention. He was appointed to the Senate in January of 2018 after former Sen. Brian Shiozawa resigned to take a job in the Trump administration. He lost in November of that year to current Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights. Riebe won the rematch last November. Zehnder is a family doctor who runs a private practice.
Many of the other candidates vying to replace Damschen have financial or accounting experience.
Draper Councilmember Mike Green previously worked as the Utah assistant attorney general assigned to the Utah Treasurer’s office. He currently works as an attorney and city prosecutor for several cities in Utah.
Riverton City Councilwoman Tawnee McCay holds an MBA and has worked as a financial planner. She’s married to current Utah Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton.
Chip Dawson was appointed as treasurer for South Jordan City in 2017. He also served as intergovernmental affairs coordinator for the city. He previously ran unsuccessfully for the Jordan School Board in 2016. Dawson is also the Utah state leader for former presidential candidate Evan McMullin’s Stand Up Republic group.
Susan Speirs is the CEO of the Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants, a position she has held for nearly eight years. She is also a member of the Utah Council on Financial and Economic Education.
Cleon Butterfield is the senior vice president and CFO of the Utah Housing Corporation, the organization Damschen resigned as treasurer to join.
Chadwick Fairbanks unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Utah’s 1st Congressional District three times — in 2020, 2018 and 2016. He was eliminated at the GOP convention in 2020 and was an independent candidate in the other two elections.
On June 12, the Utah GOP’s State Central Committee will meet and consider the candidates, then send up to three names to Cox to choose from. Cox will then appoint one of them as the next treasurer.
Whoever wins the special election will face Utah voters in 2022 to fill the remaining two years of Damschen’s term.