SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State Treasurer David Damschen announced Monday he will step down from his elected position later this month to lead the Utah Housing Corporation.
Damschen, who was re-elected in November, will leave office on April 30 after serving as the state treasurer since 2015, state officials said.
"I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve as treasurer of our great state," Damschen said in a statement. "It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside other state leaders to ensure Utah remains a leader in the nation for its broad fiscal and economic strength, to provide resources to empower Utahns to achieve financial and economic success and to protect individual property rights."
After nearly 20 years in the private sector, Damschen began working in the Utah Office of State Treasurer in 2009. He was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert to be Utah's 25th treasurer in 2015 after his predecessor, Richard Ellis, resigned to take a position with the nonprofit Utah Educational Saving Plan. Damschen went on to be re-elected in 2016 and again in 2020.
State officials said more than $2 billion in stable interest income was collected, while more than $200 million in unclaimed property was returned to Utah residents and businesses during his tenure in office. They also credited him with implementing many "money-saving technologies" over the past five years. He also served as the president of the National Association of State Treasurers in 2019.
Utah GOP officials also credited Damschen for his efforts to improve financial education in Utah schools and launching the state's "Women in The Money" program.
"As state treasurer for the past five years, David Damschen has safeguarded individual property rights and greatly contributed to Utah's tremendous economic success," said Gov. Spencer Cox, in a statement Monday afternoon. "We're grateful for his commitment to public service and wish him every success as CEO of the Utah Housing Corporation."
A process is currently underway to find a new state treasurer; Damschen's term was set to expire at the end of 2024.
State officials said Monday that Gov. Spencer Cox will appoint an acting treasurer until the Utah Republican Party's State Central Committee nominates three final candidates for Cox to appoint as Damschen's permanent replacement who will serve through 2022. Utah GOP officials said that anyone seeking to be nominated for the role can apply between May 3 and May 10.
"As a party, we will do everything in our power to ensure that the individuals forwarded to Governor Cox are uniquely qualified to serve in this critical role," Utah GOP officials said in a statement Monday. It's expected that a replacement will be selected by June 12.
The state will also hold a special election for the position during the next state general election, which is in November 2022. The winner of the election will serve out the remainder of what would have been Damschen's term.
Meanwhile, Damschen will take over as the president and CEO of the Utah Housing Corporation beginning May 3. The UHC was created by the state Legislature in 1975 as a public corporation to provide affordable financing of homes and apartments for Utahns with low and moderate income.
"While I am sad to leave the office, I am equally excited for the opportunity to continue my public service by joining the outstanding team at Utah Housing to help address the critical and growing problem of housing affordability in Utah," Damschen added. "That mission is as important now as ever given the state's affordable housing crisis."
He replaces Grant Whitaker, who announced he was retiring from the position that he had served in for the organization since 2009. He had also worked at the UHC for more than 40 years.
"While leaving brings on mixed emotions, I know Utah Housing is in good hands with David and a proven team of professionals," Whitaker said in a statement.