Short-Lived Term Ends for Utah Governor

Gov. Olene Walker (search) — Utah's first female governor, and its shortest-serving chief executive — packed up her belongings on her last full day Wednesday.

"We are making headway. It's very slow, though, because I take too much time reflecting on how great it's been," Walker, 74, told reporters as she cleaned out her desk to make way for Gov.-elect John Huntsman Jr (search).

"As I look at photos, or notes or awards, of course I get emotional. It's hard to realize that this is coming to the end."

Walker says she's likely out of public office for good after nine years as a state legislator, 11 years as lieutenant governor and one in Utah's chief executive office.

Walker says she's not yet sure what job she'll hold next, but that she's gotten several attractive offers in higher education and the private sector.

"These are things I'll decide in the next few weeks," she said.

The governor will likely be best remembered for her childhood reading program and an ambitious proposal to overhaul Utah's tax system - though it was unveiled just before her term was to expire, and might never make it on the books.

Walker succeeded Gov. Mike Leavitt (search) in November 2003 following his appointment as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (search).

She remains governor until Huntsman's Jan. 3 inauguration; remaining official duties include filling a vacant 3rd District Court seat and traveling to Arizona to watch Utah compete in the Fiesta Bowl (search).

Among the mementoes Walker intends to leave for the new governor when he arrives at his desk are two four-leaf clovers.

"Of course it'll be hard to leave office," she said. "But I also realize that governors need to pass the baton and get off the track."