Utah Rep. Fawson resigning, sets up special vote among GOPers to replace him

Sunday , May 20, 2018 - 5:00 AM

NORTH OGDEN — Utah Rep. Justin Fawson has formally tendered his resignation, as had been expected, and a special election has been called to find someone to fill out his term in the District 7 seat through the end of 2018.

With the June 26 GOP primary looming for the next two-year term in the post, however, one of the hopefuls for the seat — Lisa Roskelley — proposes that the special election be delayed until after the primary between her and Kyle Andersen. The winner on June 26 could then be tabbed to fill Fawson’s term, thus eliminating the possibility of one person serving through 2018 and another, depending on results on June 26, serving when the new term starts in 2019.

RELATED: Utah Rep. Justin Fawson to step down, move to North Carolina

Having two different people hold the District 7 seat, one through 2018 and another when the next term starts in 2019, would be “a disservice to the county,” Roskelley said. District 7 covers northern Ogden, North Ogden and Pleasant View, and Fawson revealed last March that he’d be stepping down from the seat to move to North Carolina.

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As is, the special election to replace Fawson between Roskelley and Andersen — also the only GOPers seeking the seat in the primary — is set for next Wednesday at North Ogden City Hall starting at 6 p.m. Per Weber County Republican Party bylaws and state election laws, members of the local party’s central committee from District 7 are to make the pick in the special vote.

Lynda Pipkin, chairwoman of the county party here, said changing the procedure to let the GOP primary winner fill out Fawson’s term would be the call of central committee members. Andersen expressed confidence in leaving matters in the hands of the District 7 delegates.

“I have faith they’ll make the right decision,” Andersen said. 

There’s no guarantee a Republican would win the District 7 race in the general election, set for Nov. 6. David Owen is running as a Democrat. But Republican contenders have handily beat out Democrats for the seat dating to at least 2002, according to county election records.


Fawson said in a May 8 letter to Greg Hughes, the speaker of the Utah House, that he’d be stepping down effective May 23, when the special election is to be held. A job opportunity for his wife, Sara Fawson, arose in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area, prompting the decision.

RELATED: North Ogden woman to seek Utah House seat to be vacated by Rep. Justin Fawson

RELATED: North Ogden Democrat, Republican join race for Utah House District 7 seat

“I have no regrets looking back as I feel I’ve executed my duties in the best interests of the residents of my community and Utahns across the state,” Fawson wrote. “The growth I’ve experienced in my own life and relationships I’ve made with both my colleagues and those I’ve served have been tremendous.”

Roskelley outlined why she thinks the primary winner should be tabbed to fill Fawson’s unfinished term in a post on her campaign Facebook page.

“Continuity for District 7 is the paramount reason to ensure that the Republican who is appointed is also the Republican on November's ballot,” she wrote. If one of the two GOPers is picked to fill Fawson’s term on May 23 and the other wins on June 26 “the possibility of having effective and meaningful representation is lost.”

To assure the special election and GOP primary winners are the same, Fawson could delay his resignation, enabling local Republicans to change the date of the special vote until after June 26. Alternatively, state law allows the local party to send both Roskelly’s and Andersen’s names to the governor, instructing him to appoint the primary winner, once known, to fill Fawson’s unexpired term.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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