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The City Journals

Incumbent fever strikes Murray this election

Nov 24, 2020 02:26PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Representative-elect Gay Lynn Bennion (left) will take outgoing Representative Marie Poulson’s seat in the state legislature. (Photo courtesy Gay Lynn Bennion)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Utah voters came out in droves in this year’s General Election, mainly favoring incumbents in local races. During the early voting period and on Election Day, there was a continual line of people stretching through and sometimes outside Murray City Hall to vote and a steady stream of cars at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s ballot dropbox.

Democrats came out the big winners in all of Murray’s state house races, with no Republicans moving onward to inauguration day. One new face representing Murray this year is Democrat Gay Lynn Bennion. She will take over retiring Representative Marie Poulson’s seat, representing the southeast corner of Murray. 

Bennion, who defeated Republican Jaren Davis with nearly 57% of the vote, graduated from Brigham Young University. She lists her profession as Education Director of the Women’s State Legislative Council of Utah, a bipartisan think tank.

After her victory, Bennion said, “Votes still being counted, but with this clear win, the state is contacting me as the representative-elect for HD46. Thanks to our incredible campaign team, my family, dedicated volunteers, and voters for your confidence in me. I will serve you well.”

Eastern Murray will see Representative Carol Spackman Moss (D) return to serve another term; she was first elected in 2000. The former high school teacher defeated Republican Maryann Christensen by over 61% of the vote.

Moss posted on social media, “We did it. We worked hard and smart and, as always, stayed positive.”

Having one of his most decisive winning margins, Democrat Mark Wheatley, whose district covers northern Murray, defeated Republican Luke Gustafson with nearly 68% of the vote. Wheatley has served in the legislature since 2005.

Wheatley noted that this year’s election is a little different. “This is my first election without my mother, who was always my biggest supporter. I always feel her spirit with me, to make sure I treat everyone with respect and love.”

Murray City Prosecutor Andrew Stoddard (D) will again represent western Murray. He defeated Republican Kyle Bird with 55% of the vote. Their race was a friendly competition, with each extending well wishes after Election Day.

“After making this decision in April, I looked down the road and wondered how it would go. It began with the unexpected death of my oldest son in May, which knocked us down pretty hard, but we as a team got up,” Bird said. “I would like to thank everyone for their help and support through all of this, as well as congratulate Andrew Stoddard on his well-deserved victory.”

Stoddard said, “I want to thank Kyle Bird and John Jackson for running good, clean races. This is how elections should be run.”

Democrat and two-term Representative Karen Kwan will continue serving northwest Murray. She received nearly 57% of the vote in her rematch with Republican David Young.

In the Utah State Senate, only one Murray race was in play this election, featuring a rematch between current Senator Kathleen Riebe (D) and challenger Brian Zehnder (R). Riebe, who filled out the remainder of departing Senator Brian Shiozawa’s term, will now serve a full six-year term after garnering nearly 57% of the vote.

Zehnder conceded by posting on his social media accounts, “Perspective is Everything. We had two ways to win on November 3 for the Utah Senate. We either received more votes, or we drew attention to the need for medical input in our legislature. We won on the latter. Congrats to my opponent, Kathleen Riebe.”

For Murray School Board, Glo Merrill and Jaren Cooper both ran unopposed, and each will begin a second term in January. For Granite School District School Board 2, which covers eastern Murray, Clarke Nelson narrowly defeated incumbent Starleen Orullian by 2% of the vote.

Updated election results can be found online at electionresults.utah.gov/.