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Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser Announces Retirement

Austen Diamond

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser has announced his retirement from state government, joining a mass exodus of longtime lawmakers from the Utah Legislature.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Niederhauser said it was time for a “new face with fresh energy and ideas.”

The Sandy Republican had originally planned to run for re-election without seeking another term as president. But over the last few days, Niedehauser said, he began to question his decision, even making a list of pros and cons.

“While on paper the decision seemed obvious, an inner voice said, ‘this is the very reason you shouldn’t run for office again,’” he wrote. “This message may seem confusing, but to me the meaning is clear: when you begin to think you are even a little indispensable, it is time to step away,” he said.

Nearly one-fifth of the current Utah Legislature is departing next year, including House Speaker Greg Hughes. Niederhauser’s exit, among other longtime incumbents, will likely lead to more reshuffling and jockeying for influence within the Republican caucus.

Niederhauser has represented Senate District 9 in the legislature since 2006. He was elected to lead the Senate in 2012. An influential figure in Utah politics, Niederhauser also serves on the board of directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators.

During the last session, Niederhauser helped usher through a large school funding compromise and tax reform bill, a top priority for him.

Gov. Gary Herbert called Niederhauser an extraordinary leader and “calm voice of reason.”

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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