PLEASANT GROVE — Political blogger Holly Richardson was selected by a group of 100 Utah County Republican delegates Saturday to fill the vacancy representing House District 57.
Richardson, a mother of 24 — including 20 adopted children — from Pleasant Grove who runs the conservative blog "Holly on the Hill," beat out five others in the special election held after it was determined Rep. Craig Frank was living outside the district boundaries.
Richardson's name will now be submitted to Gov. Gary Herbert, who will make the official appointment.
"It's a little surreal, but I'm excited to get to work on Monday," Richardson said.
There were 125 possible delegates and 100 who cast ballots in two rounds of voting at Lincoln Academy in Pleasant Grove. The victor needed to garner 60 percent of the votes to win, and Richardson had 62 votes in the second round of voting.
Signs for both Richardson and John Glen Stevens peppered the walkway into the auditorium, and the bulk of those in attendance wore either a sticker endorsing one of the two candidates or a tan badge indicating they were a delegate or both.
Of the four candidates present — Stevens, Gary Gygi, Stephen Graham and Richardson — she was met with the loudest crowd response.
The post opened up following Frank's resignation. He unknowingly consulted an inaccurate Utah County election map before moving his family to Cedar Hills, which landed him outside the boundaries of the district he was serving.
The map not only misled Frank, but also about 2,500 Cedar Hills residents who had been voting for the wrong state House, Senate and congressional candidates for 10 years.
The mistake was discovered when Frank entered his address into a new House website, based on the official state map, and he saw another lawmaker's name appear as his representative. At that point, he had been living in the disputed Cedar Hills area two years.
Frank notified officials and hoped to keep his seat, arguing that his election had been certified by the lieutenant governor's office. But Frank gave up that fight after the House GOP caucus overwhelmingly voted against seating Frank or redrawing the district boundaries.
While there is legislation pending that would redraw the district's boundary and have allowed Frank to run in the special election, no action was taken by the Legislature.
Richardson said she didn't decide to put her name into the ring until she knew for certain that there was no way Frank could continue to serve.
"I knew that if he were not able to be on the ballot, then I wanted to have my name on there as a solid choice," she said. "If he were on the ballot, I would not have put my name on the ballot."
But as soon as a judge ruled that she didn't have the authority to rule on the case and the election moved forward, Richardson knew she could handle the job.
"It was kind of an awkward dance," Richardson said. "Delegates were mad and Craig is my friend, but I was able to contact some of the delegates and say: 'Here's what I can bring to the table: I can hit the ground running Monday morning.'"
Frank was present at the special election Saturday and met with numerous rounds of applause and standing ovations. He said serving those within the district had been his privilege, but he is confident in Richardson.
"These are my neighbors and friends," he said after the election. "We're a big family. We trust each other and we respect each other Holly Richardson will do a fantastic job."
He said his family will take the weekend to regroup and to mull all the options that have been presented to him for the future. And while he hasn't ruled out running in future elections, he really wants to see the Legislature "do the right thing" and expand the district boundaries to include those in the northern part of Cedar Hills.
"My guess is that by the end of the legislative session, well all be the same family again, under the same roof," he said.
The last action the group of delegates took was a move toward doing just that, unanimously passing a resolution that would ask that the boundary be changed immediately to reflect it as it was "understood and implemented over the last five election cycles."
Utah County Republican Party Chairman Taylor Oldroyd said District 57 had been given a "raw deal" and already missed out on about 100 votes in the past five days, but he said he is confident Richardson will be up to the task when she heads to the Legislature on Monday.
"It's early enough in the session they'll be fine," he said. "I know Craig Frank and other members have indicated they'll do whatever they need to help."
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