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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell announced Monday that he is stepping down, citing the need to earn more money to meet some financial obligations and plan for retirement.
"The Great Recession was not kind to those of us in real estate. I came out with some liabilities," he said.
Bell, who turns 65 next month, said he has an outstanding loan on property he anticipated selling but hasn't been able to do so. He said it came to the point that he has to take care of it and plan for the future.
"I need to make some money," said Bell, whose office pays $105,000 a year.
Bell, a real estate and finance lawyer, has served as lieutenant governor since September 2009. Gov. Gary Herbert named him to the post after Herbert replaced Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who resigned to become ambassador to China.
Herbert said he has valued Bell's loyalty as his partner and friend, and his resignation leaves a large hole in the administration.
"He is a true statesman, a man of principle, integrity and resolve. And he has been key to our ongoing success, particularly on the education front," he said.
I'm a citizen politician. I've never viewed politics as a career.
–Lt. Gov. Greg Bell
Bell also has been heavily involved in planning the state budget and health care issues.
"I'm a citizen politician. I've never viewed politics as a career," said Bell, whose public service has spanned 23 years. He previously served on the Farmington City Council and in the Utah Senate.
Herbert said he has a short list of successors in mind, but is not ready to make a choice. Bell said he gave the governor his own list of 10 or 12.
Senator Orrin Hatch released a statement regarding Bell's resignation Monday afternoon.
"I want to commend Lieutenant Greg Bell for his exemplary service to the state of Utah. He has epitomized dedication and a commitment to our state that has been felt by Utahns in every corner of our state. I wish him well in his future endeavors," Hatch said.
Contributing: Richard Piatt