Skip to main content

South Jordan Journal

‘Amazing Opportunity’ — South Jordan mayor recounts personally meeting U.S. Vice President Pence

Sep 23, 2019 01:02PM ● By Julie Slama

With former Sen. Orrin Hatch and others looking on, South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey welcomes U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to South Jordan before he talked at Merit Medical. (Photo courtesy of Dawn Ramsey via the White House)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

It isn’t every day that the U.S. vice president comes to South Jordan. As the mayor points out, it’s not a capitol city, nor is there a disaster or tragedy.

“You just don’t get a visit like this; it’s extremely rare,” South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey said about the Aug. 22 visit.

Vice President Mike Pence toured Merit Medical, shook hands with workers and gave a speech in front of Utah dignitaries about the strength of the U.S. economy and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which is intended to supersede the North American Free Trade Agreement, and has not been ratified by Congress.

Pence’s visit wasn’t planned out months ahead with city officials, but rather less than one week.

“I received a call from Fred Lampropoulos, the chairman, CEO and founder of Merit Medical, and he told me he had just gotten off the phone with the White House, and he was extending the White House’s invitation to have me be there when the vice president came,” she said. “It was just five or six days ahead of his visit. At the time Fred invited me, I was very honored and excited that the vice president would see our excellent community, but at the same time, it was a little surreal, as I couldn’t say anything about it. It’s not the phone call you expect to get.”

While Ramsey keeps a non-partisan office, she was aware that not everyone may be supportive of Pence’s visit.

“I respect the office of vice president of the United States and would welcome any vice president, regardless of political party, to our city,” she said. “It’s an honor for our city as it’s the first-time a vice president has ever visited South Jordan.”

Ramsey was joined by Gov. Gary Herbert, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Ben McAdams, former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Speaker of the House Brad Wilson, South Jordan City Council and other dignitaries, but was surprised when only she and Hatch and his wife were invited backstage before Pence’s presentation.

“I didn’t know I’d get to meet him until shortly before he arrived,” she said. “It was such an unexpected honor to meet him, shake his hand and welcome him to the city.” 

Security was strict so she wasn’t allowed to hand him anything or even pull out a cell phone to snap a photo. However, a White House photographer caught the moment.

“He was very easy to talk to, down to earth and has an impressive presence,” she said. “I felt very comfortable around him.” 

And when asked, she laughed and said, “No, he didn’t have sweaty palms.”

Ramsey said he said he was happy to be visiting South Jordan.

“He talked about the beautiful community and the contributions we and Merit Medical bring to the community, state and nation,” she said.

This was the second time Ramsey has listened to Pence speak in person. Last September, she and five other Utah female mayors attended the Women Mayors of America White House Conference and personally heard him talk.

After his speech here, he shook hands with some people in the front row, including Ramsey.

“He said, ‘Mayor, how’d we do?’” she said. “It was such an unexpected honor to have him here, meet him and then, have him personally acknowledge me. Then, he continued his tour of the facility, shaking hands with those who work here and talking to them. What a privilege.”

Ramsey credits the governor’s office in recommending South Jordan and Merit Medical as the host city and facility for the vice president.

While there was much preparation at hand for the vice president’s visit, Ramsey said it was coordinated by the White House, so they arranged security, visitor clearance and other matters, leaving local government to run as usual and provide for its citizens.

“They worked with other local agencies, so we never compromised the safety of our residents,” she said. “There were no headaches; we worked together with the Secret Service in charge. The Secret Service measures the exactness of his moves, down to how many steps he takes and who is allowed to be anywhere so being able to meet him was one of the most amazing opportunities of my life.”