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American Fork • Utah County Republican delegates selected conservative blogger Holly Richardson on Saturday to fill the vacancy created in House District 57.
Richardson, who writes the "Holly on the Hill" blog, received 62 votes on the second ballot, enough to beat out three challengers and replace former Rep. Craig Frank, R-Cedar Hills. She is set to take her seat in the Utah House of Representatives on Monday.
Frank resigned his seat recently after a map error revealed he did not live in the legislative district he represented. An attempt by Frank's supporters to either put his neighborhood of Cedar Hills back in the district or delay the election until the Legislature could approve a bill that would move the boundary, failed in 4th District Court on Friday.
"I hope [the delegates in Frank's neighborhood] can feel some comfort that there is a process that works,"said Richardson, a Pleasant Grove midwife and mother of 24, after winning the election.
Richardson competed with Gary Gygi, Stephen Graham and John Glenn Stevens for Frank's former seat. Two other candidates, Willie Finch and Vard Bischoff, were removed from the ballot.
In the first round of voting, Richardson took a commanding lead, with 55 votes to Stephens' 27, Gygi's 17 and Graham's 1. In the second round, with 100 delegates voting, Richardson won 62, securing the 60 percent needed to win.
Richardson got involved in politics in 2002 when she lobbied to legalize home births. She started her blog in 2009, which she credited for her win Saturday night.
"It was an opportunity to get my views out there for an election with short notice," Richardson said. She said the blog, which she plans to continue while serving on the hill, let delegates know where she stood on issues.
In her speech to delegates Saturday, Richardson said she would communicate regularly with them, and even if they don't agree with her, she will listen to what they have to say.
She also vowed to fight what she sees as publicly financed bailouts, whether from the federal government or the state.
"I teach my children that they can't coast in life. They have to work," Richardson said.
Frank said he would work with Richardson to make the transition smooth for her.
"I think Holly will be a great representative," he said. "The people in House District 57 have spoken."
Meanwhile, Sen. John L. Valentine, R-Orem, vowed to continue to push his bill to bring the precincts in Cedar Hills back into House District 57. The precincts are now, as a result of the map error, in House District 27, represented by Rep. John Dougall. Valentine said the bill would also require the lieutenant governor to sign off on election maps within five days after the counties draw them to ensure the mistake doesn't happen again.
Valentine said the 3,300 voters in the affected area cannot afford to wait for the Legislature to complete its decennial redistricting.
"Without Senate Bill 113, we would have the same thing happen if [Sen.] Howard Stephenson resigned, if I resigned, if [U.S. Rep.] Jason Chaffetz resigned and if [U.S. Rep.] Jim Matheson resigned," Valentine said, getting raucous cheers from the delegates at the suggestion of the state's only Democratic congressman resigning. "Delegates would be voting to replace someone they didn't vote for."
Utah County Republican chairman Taylor Oldroyd said politics had delayed the bill's passage, forcing the county to conduct the election without Frank having the chance to run for the seat. Had that happened, he said, Frank would be heading back to the Capitol on Monday, as the candidates vying for Frank's seat would have stepped aside for Frank.
Frank would not say if he will run for his seat again in 2012. He said it would depend on how the Legislature redraws the districts.