Top Utah GOP House leader Francis Gibson stepping down

House Majority Leader Francis Gibson has served in the Legislature since 2009.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, in the House Chamber in Salt Lake City on Thursday Dec. 12, 2019 as lawmakers hold a special session focusing on tax reform.

The top Republican in the Utah House is resigning after 13 years in the Legislature.

House Majority Leader Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, made the surprise announcement to his Republican colleagues on Tuesday afternoon.

“My wife has sacrificed many of her goals and who she is to support me,” Gibson said in a text message to The Tribune.

“I have missed many things that my kids and family have done over the years to serve. I chose this life as an elected official and I have enjoyed trying to make a difference. However, now it is time to choose my family and let others have the chance to serve in the legislature,” he added.

His resignation is effective Nov. 8, meaning he will be out of his seat prior to the special session for redistricting.

Gibson was first elected in 2008 after serving on the Mapleton City Council from 2003 to 2007.

During his time on the Hill, Gibson helped shepherd the creation of the inland port, despite opposition from Salt Lake City leaders. He also helped spearhead the establishment of a chief digital privacy officer for the state, along with a 12-member Personal Privacy Oversight Committee.

Gibson also was part of the 2019 effort to reform the state’s tax code, which passed the Legislature in December of that year. But, that bill was quickly repealed after a successful effort to put the measure on the ballot.

As Gibson steps aside, that leaves an open slot in the House GOP Caucus leadership. House Majority Whip Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, and Assistant Majority Whip Val Peterson, R-Orem, may attempt to move up a rung on the leadership ladder when elections are held.

Gibson is the second House Republican to resign from office this year. Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, is stepping down on Nov. 8 after he was appointed to the Second District Court by Gov. Spencer Cox. Hall will be replaced by Judy Weeks-Rohner who won a special election earlier in October.

Gibson’s replacement will be chosen by GOP delegates in his legislative district sometime after he officially steps down.