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Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Polly Hart, chairwoman of legislative District 24, holds up a "time's up" sign for one of the legislative candidates Wednesday night.

Two women selected to fill vacant seats in Utah's House and Senate promised Wednesday night to continue the legacies of their predecessors.

Democratic Party delegates selected Rebecca Chavez-Hauck to fill the Legislative District 24 seat left vacant when Ralph Becker was elected as Salt Lake City mayor.

In Senate District 5, which comprises Kearns, West Valley City and Taylorsville, delegates selected Karen Mayne to fill the position of her late husband, Ed Mayne. She ran unopposed.

The new legislators will be sworn in before the start of the 2008 Legislature session begins in January.

Chavez-Hauck brings more than 20 years of professional public relations experience to the job, in addition to months of service as public relations director for House Democrats.

"I am read to carry forth the progressive vanguard in the Legislature," she told a crowd of about 50 delegates gathered in the Salt Lake County Council chambers Wednesday. "I have the moxie to work with the often challenging environment our Legislature sometimes presents."

Chavez-Hauck was chosen over Richard Goldberger, David Berg and Mark Swonson, who had also applied. Each candidate spoke for three minutes before the delegates voted.

Their speeches advocated legislative reform, a free transit system, passage of an animal cruelty law and increased civic literacy, among other things.

Delegate vote tallies will not be made public, said Democratic Party Secretary Angela Romero.

Chavez-Hauck, a one-time newspaper reporter, hopes to establish an independent ethics commission to overlook the Utah House and Senate, she said. She also wants to increase education funding statewide and work toward giving women more say in birth-control issues and abortion rights, which she sees as public health issues.

Mayne, the only candidate seeking the Senate District 5 seat, vowed to carry on her husband's legacy.

"My husband and I always worked as a team to take care of this district," she said Wednesday. "This is just a natural thing for me, and my delegates feel the same."

Mayne plans to focus on west-side issues, including better roads, more environmental protection and senior citizen care, she said. Mobile home issues are also important to her constituents, she said.

"We're going to take care of our Senate district," she said.


E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com