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Utah’s new lieutenant governor sworn into office

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Posted at 10:45 PM, Oct 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-17 00:46:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- From a small town mayor to a county commissioner, a Utah lawmaker and now the state's new lieutenant governor, Spencer J. Cox, has accepted the tough job as the Governor's right-hand man

Cox opened up about his new role to reporters and admits he has big shoes to fill.

As Cox was sworn into office late Wednesday, he stepped up to the podium to give his speech and choked up when he said: "This is an honor, not just for me, but for the good people of Sanpete County. I'm grateful for my rural upbringing, my family, my parents for the work ethic they taught me and the importance of public service."

The 38-year-old admits he is a political newcomer in many ways, although the Republican did serve as the Mayor of his hometown of Fairview, as Sanpete County Commissioner and most recently as a freshman lawmaker in the Utah House of Representatives.

Still, the call from Gov. Gary Herbert to serve as the state's lieutenant governor came as a surprise.

"We were both surprised,” Cox said, referring to his wife Abby, sitting next to him. “I don't think I was on the top of everyone's list in the state."

He went on to say, "People with political aspirations don't usually move to Fairview, Utah. It's not the bastion of political success for those seeking higher office."

With his wife Abby by his side, Cox answered questions about his new role. He said he will have big shoes to fill.

"I’ve often said you don't want to be the coach after the Hall of Fame coach, and I feel like I'm kind of walking into that a little bit with Lt. Governor Greg Bell,” he said. “My nervousness comes from the shoes that I have to fill and just the great person that he is. I am not him, but every day I try to be more like him."

Born and raised in rural Utah, Cox will be making the long, 90-minute commute to the state capitol almost daily. He said among the things important to him are creating jobs, Utah's air quality and the public school education system.

"I'm invested in that, I have four kids in public school,” he said. ”I have two elementary, one in middle school and one in high school. We have it covered, and it means a lot to me."

Cox said he's going to take the next few days off, saying he promised his four kids a vacation, which will be spent in southern Utah.