It's fascinating to watch the Republican presidential primary race. Voters say they want a candidate with this or that political philosophy. To be sure, a candidate's stand on the issues is very important. But from this side of the election process, I can tell you that voters put a lot of emphasis on the "feel" of a candidate.
What voters don't see, unfortunately, is how a public official functions day-to-day in office. Perhaps my fly-on-the-wall view of Gov. Herbert’s everyday leadership and decisions might interest you.
First and foremost, Gov. Herbert is committed to good "process." He employs a very objective process in making decisions and appointments. He will not be rushed; he will not rubber stamp recommendations. For example, in his rather short tenure, Gov. Herbert has appointed nearly 20% of all sitting state judges. After staff extensively researches and interviews all finalists, he thoroughly reviews resumes, then carefully interviews each candidate, sometimes more than once. And he is a tough interviewer, getting past formulaic answers to the real person. He consults with staff, checks references, and follows up on concerns. Then he mulls it over thoughtfully, sometimes calling candidates back in. Ultimately, he makes his decision with a comprehensive view and maximum information. As a result, the Governor’s judicial appointments have been of the highest quality. He tries to follow good process in all his decisions.
Closely akin to good process is his principled-based decision-making. He assesses each issue through the filter of his stated four cornerstones: economic growth and jobs, education, energy development, and autonomy as a sovereign state in our federal system. In reviewing the 477 bills the Legislature passed this year, the Governor first followed a rigorous internal process of review and then weighed the implications of each bill against his priorities and principles. On HB 363, the controversial sex education bill, the Governor’s final decision hinged on the principle of parental responsibility and choice, rather than political calculus. Regardless of critics and political fallout, Gary Herbert reaches his own conclusions, based on good information, reasoned judgment and sound principle.
The most extraordinarily effective--though at times misunderstood and criticized--element of Gov. Herbert's style is collaboration. Timid governors are sometimes called "boards and commissions" governors, referring tough issues to a board to defuse controversy. Usually, little gets done. Other governors have an appetite for the spotlight and like to muscle their personal agenda through. That is not Gov. Herbert’s approach. He does not duck difficult decisions, but he knows that a strong-arm approach is often ineffective. We get the best outcomes when stakeholders collaborate on equal footing, commit to an action plan with a defined process, and receive clear direction and vision as they work. A perfect example is the Governor's Education Excellence Commission. With membership from 35 different stakeholder groups, we meet monthly and attack the thorniest problems in our education system. Through this collaboration, the Governor has achieved near unanimous buy-in for critical objectives. Not surprisingly, the Governor’s track record of getting his education priorities passed, funded and implemented is nearly perfect. This is real leadership: bringing strong-minded people together and leading them to identify problems and to form great policy options. The Education Excellence Commission has stopped a lot of the empty, divisive rhetoric, and has found and helped implement real, durable and common sense solutions.
The Gary Herbert brand of leadership yields solid results. Some want more glitz, some grow impatient with process, but you cannot question his principles or argue with the results. It is no accident that Utah is leading the nation in numerous categories. With Gov. Herbert’s steady hand and unwavering values, Utah values, we will continue the solid trajectory back to economic stability. His process, principles and collaborative style have already brought success; they will help Utah achieve ever greater things. I have seen it first-hand.