...As Jae Potter looks ahead to the challenges of the job
Like many people who have lived much of their lives in Price and Carbon County, Jae Potter has come to appreciate the area he grew up in as a child and as a parent raising his family. While things may have changed over time, Main Street no longer being the state highway through Price and the area experiencing a growth in population, he enjoys what the area has to offer and the people who live here.
Potter grew on Main Street, spending many days at his father's grocery store, Potter's Food Farm and Thrifty Food Market. It was at the store and through family he learned of what went into making a small business work everyday.
"I remember that time well growing up on Main Street," said Potter.
Over time he then became a third generation small business owner in the area. He knows the struggles and hard work small businesses must endure to survive and thrive. For 24 years, Potter owned and operated the Best Western Carriage House Inn, 590 E. Main, and sold it three years ago. Currently Potter works with Bridge Reality as a licensed real estate agent, a job he enjoys working everyday.
He spent some time at the College of Eastern Utah before leaving to study at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, where he received a degree in Hotel Administration. During this time he also served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the England-Manchester mission. "After serving my mission in England, I now know how to really speak English," Potter joked.
In the late 1970s and early 80s, Potter returned to Price after serving his mission and finishing school but could hardly remember the area. Carbon County had experienced a growth in population, the mines were doing well and the county was experiencing a boom period, Potter said.
"When I came back to Price, I didn't even recognize it at first," he said. "There used to be nothing in some areas and now there were homes and developments."
Now fresh off his win in the election for Carbon County Commissioner, Potter is ready to hit the ground running and get started in his new position within Carbon County. But the entire election from start to finish was a long and arduous process that saw the pendulum swing one way to the other.
Potter, a Republican, was in the running against Democratic challenger David Palacios for the seat that longtime County Commissioner Bill Krompel would be vacating in January after 24 years in office. Potter and Palacios were running neck and neck in the election and on Nov. 2 the voters in Carbon County seemed to feel the same way. When the dust cleared, Palacios and Potter found themselves only separated by five votes with Palacios garnering 2,585 votes to Potter's 2,580.
Despite being down by a few votes, Potter said he was confident he still had a shot to win with the absentee and provisional ballots still needing to be counted. But the week long wait was hard to endure, he said.
"It was like waiting for Christmas to finally arrive," said Potter. "There was a lot of people at the courthouse that night and you didn't know how those votes would play out."
After the week-long wait was finished, Christmas did arrive a little early this year for Potter. With all of the absentee and provisional votes counted, Potter won the election by 34 votes, 2,665 to Palacios' 2,631.
It was a satisfying feeling for Potter, who came very close to unseating Democrat Mike Milovich in 2008 losing only by a few hundred votes. The previous experience became a learning process for Potter. He and many volunteers worked during the election to get as many people as possible out to vote at the polls.
"The last time I ran gave me good exposure," said Potter. "It seemed this time around, more people wanted to have a voice."
After being announced as the winner Potter said he was bombarded with phone calls and congratulations from people. It was fitting considering he was the first Republican in decades to hold a seat on the county commission, with some saying it has been over 40 years and others say it hasn't happened since the 1930s.
"I received a spectacular amount of support from the community," he said noting that the Republican element has always been in Carbon County, but it has been more silent.
Throughout his campaign Potter said three of the biggest issues Carbon County is facing include public lands access and usage, water issues and working to keep a balanced budget. Potter is already working on researching these areas and has been attending many different meetings in preparation of his arrival on the county commission.
Outside of all the politics and work, Potter can be found spending much of his free time with his family doing things together. He lists family as his number one priority with his wife Lisa, and their four sons and one daughter-in-law.
"It seems like there is always a big gathering with the family all of the time," said Potter. "And there has never been a dull moment especially with four sons around."
He also serves as a Stake President in Price for the LDS Church.
With just over a month before he officially joins the county commission, Potter is hoping to learn all that he can between now and then as he wants to be informed on as many topics and issues as possible. Potter said he is eagerly awaiting for his assignments as a commissioner and is hopeful he can work with as many people as possible to solve issues within Carbon County.