“I’ve always considered the time I’ve put into community service, and time not spent with my family, as justifiable because I was creating a better future for my kids,” Baird said in an email announcing his resignation to the county council. “However, I don’t believe that I can continue on with that justification. My vision for this community seems to have fallen out-of-line wwith the community’s vision.”
His announcement came hours after a June 6 public hearing regarding a potential council resolution advocating for state code revisions to the transient room tax (TRT). Baird proposed the resolution, saying he aimed to expand the abilities of TRT revenue, including using the funding to promote economic diversification, higher education, and greater mitigation of the impacts associated with tourism.
However, representatives of the tourism and hotel industry voiced objections to the proposal, and some accused Baird of going to “war” with tourism, the main economic driver of Moab’s economy.
“I only have a few more years left to spend with my kids before they are all grown up and gone,” Baird said in his resignation email. “And so, I’ve made the decision that it is more important for me to spend the next one-and-a-half years prioritizing my family rather than becoming an anchor against the direction that this community wishes to go.”
In an email to The Times-Independent late Wednesday night, June 7, after the newspaper went to press, Baird said the TRT meeting had some impact on his decision to resign, but personal matters were the more dominating factor.
"I resigned mostly for personal reasons. Primarily to be a better dad," Baird said. "The meeting was just a reminder of what I needed to do. I’ve been through a lot worse than that."
Grand County Council chairwoman Jaylyn Hawks said she was not sure whether the sometimes-contentious June 6 meeting had any influence on Baird’s decision to leave the council.
However, she categorized Baird’s departure as a loss to the community.
“He has worked extremely hard, he’s very knowledgeable,” Hawks said. “It is a loss to the county and I’m sad and disappointed. He carries a history and a work ethic with him that will be hard to replace.”
Baird was first elected to the county council in 2008 and served four years but ultimately decided not to seek re-election in 2012. In 2014, he again won a seat on the council. During his second term as a county council member, Baird served as the council liaison to 11 different organizations, including the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah State University Advisory Board, the Grand County Recreation Special Service District and the Moab Area Watershed Partnership.
In his resignation statement, Baird acknowledged the many people he has worked with over the years through his role as a county council member.
“... I want you all to know that I appreciate and love you,” Baird wrote.
Grand County Clerk/Auditor Diana Carroll will meet with Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald this week to determine whether the current council will select a replacement to complete Baird’s term, which expires in 2018, or if a special election must be held to replace Baird on the council.