Oath of office ceremony made extra special with personal touchesFeb 23, 2022 07:45PM ● By Erin Dixon
West Jordan Councilmember Kayleen Whitlock takes her Oath of Office, accompanied by her spouse. (Erin Dixon/City Journals)
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
This January many new and returning elected officials took the Oath of Office. What is the Oath and who is qualified to perform it?
To complete the ceremony, the following words must be spoken identically as written:
“I, (elected official name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Utah, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.”
Swearing with a hand on a Bible is not required.
Rori Anderson, Midvale City clerk, said, “The Oath of Office is kept in the city’s official records of the city and a copy is given to the individual taking the oath. The Oath of Office is public record.”
Only people with certain qualifications can assist in giving the oath. Guidelines state: “Every court, every judge, clerk and deputy clerk of any court, every justice, every notary public, and every officer or person authorized to take testimony in any action or proceeding, or to decide upon evidence, has the power to administer oaths or affirmations.”
For a city government, the Oath is usually done by the city's own clerk.
If, for some reason, an elected official does not take the Oath of Office within the first few weeks of the new year, they are still accountable for their actions as an official beginning Jan. 1 of the year they were elected to take office.
Two officials in Midvale wanted to do something that made their Oaths more personal and meaningful.
Incumbent Dustin Gettel asked a personal friend, Justin Anderson, a clerk for Utah County, to administer his oath. In that same meeting, Marcus Stevenson, though not religious himself, used the same Bible that his grandmother had used when she was elected for local government.
Ceremonies for the oaths of office have no requirements beyond the wording and signing of the Oath. Sandy City hosted an hourlong program at a nearby school with choral numbers, speeches and presentations. West Jordan officials performed the ceremony opening with a color guard performed by the West Jordan Police Department, followed by the National Anthem by a current council member. Midvale’s ceremony included refreshments for guests following the ceremony.