Carbon County's longtime legislator calls it quits
After nearly 40 years in the legislature Sen. Mike Dmitrich will not seek reelection
|Sen. Mike Dmitrich stands with local House Minority Leader Brad King during the dedication of Price's new Department of Wildlife Resources Building.|
After serving the Price area since 1969, first as a representative and then as District 27's senator, minority leader Mike Dmitrich announced last week that he will not seek reelection come November.
"I was 31 years old when I got my start in the legislature," said Dmitrich, via telephone last Saturday. "When I started I was the second youngest guy up there and you know the funny thing to me is that now that I am quitting I'm still not the oldest."
When asked if he had changed his mind since his March 6 announcement, Dmitrich stated that he had not and that he had no regrets concerning his decision.
"You obviously feel a little bad, because I left a lot of good friends up there." said Dmitrich. "I am going to finish the term out and there are some things I want to get accomplished before I go. The only reason I announced now is because of the filing deadline for new candidates."
Sen. Dmitrich has taken some hits in the news lately, largely because his name was on a piece of draft legislation that would have merged the College of Eastern Utah with Utah State University.
A piece of legislation that was not popular with those working at the college or those living around it.
"The CEU situation did not have a thing to do with my announcement not to run," said Dmitrich when asked about the merger. "Right up until the last day I was back and forth about my decision But I'll tell you what; the last time I was booed like that at CEU I was when I was refereeing a basketball game."
The legislation concerning the merger never left the draft phase, but the weight of the decision to even examine the possibility came straight down on Dmitrich.
"I still believe CEU is going to have to make some big changes if they are going to make things work. I hope they can see that, because I meant what I said the legislature is not going to keep bailing them out," said Dmitrich.
Besides being a referee for a good portion of his life, Dmitrich has worked as a mining executive, a banker and a coal miner.
"I got my start up there (in the Utah Legislature) when Omar Bunnell came into the bank I was working at and asked me to run for the house seat. That was 1969 and I tell you what I have fought some battles since that time," quipped Dmitrich. "I didn't know about politics in the beginning, but Bunnell said he would help me. I didn't have much opposition that year and I took the seat and here we are 40 years later."
|Sen. Mike Dmitich takes his place on the senate floor, a position he has occupied since 1992.|
When asked why he moved from the house to the senate after being involved there from 1969 to 1992, he reponded, "once you get up there you want to be a senator, there is no way around that."
Among his proudest accomplishments over the last 40 years, Dmitch described all the building that has take place at CEU and the hand he has had in that.
"When (Mike) Petersen was the president there, we turned the old hospital into the college business building and that wasn't on anybody's priority list but we got it done," said Dmitrich.
But his proudest accomplishment on the hill is one that might surprise some of his constituents.
"You help a lot of people while you are up there, but the thing I am most proud of was legislation I got passed with the help of Bo Huff," said Dmitrich. "During my early years in the house it was illegal to have a lowrider car and Bo and I worked with the Department of Pubic Safety and got a bill passed. Just look at him now, he's a famous guy, more so out of Utah than in his home town."
According to Dmitrich that is how the government is supposed to work.
"Bo was just a normal citizen with a problem that was effecting his way of life and I was able to help him thrive. I'm proud of that," said Dmitrich. "A normal citizen impacted state law and that is how the whole crazy thing is supposed to work."
As he began to speak about his decision to quit one thing became crystal clear, he knew it was time.
"It is time for some fresh blood up there. The death of Sen. Ed Mayne was really hard on me and I knew it was time to quit," said Dmitrich. "I spent my career looking after the unions and the working people. It was just time to step down. I decided maybe I don't want to be up there without Ed around."
While the senator is planning on step down, he is not planning on retiring.
"I'm not just gonna lay around, I will keep doing some work for Consol Energy and I am going to look to do some consulting for some other energy companies," concluded Dmitrich. "A lot has been made of this CEU merger and the meetings that took place before it. But I can say this, I have never waffled concerning something I was committed to, if I committed to something I stayed with it."