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Frank resigns as Utah representative

Published: Friday, Jan. 21 2011 5:56 p.m. MST

At right, Utah Sen. Daniel W. Thatcher, R-West Valley, hugs Craig Frank after Frank announces his resignation as the Utah State Representative from District 57 during a news conference at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City Friday, Jan. 21, 2011.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Craig Frank resigned Friday as a state representative, but urged lawmakers to quickly redraw the boundaries of District 57 to include his Cedar Hills neighborhood.

His announcement, made at the state Capitol, comes after his fellow House Republicans voted overwhelmingly in a closed-door caucus not to seat him on the opening day of the 2011 Legislature Monday.

"My resignation will allow the Legislature to move forward, unencumbered, to correct errors," Frank said, referring to a decade-old difference between the Utah County and state election maps.

Frank, a member of the House since 2003, found out earlier this month he did not live within his district, as required by state law, when he entered his name into a new House website and the face of another lawmaker came up on his computer screen.

The area of Cedar Hills he moved into two years ago was undeveloped and being annexed into the city during the redistricting that followed the 2000 census. Since then, some 2,550 residents have been listed in the wrong House, Senate and congressional districts.

Frank had hoped to keep his seat, arguing that his elections have been certified by the lieutenant governor and his name appeared on state ballot information. But House leaders were told by their legal counsel that Frank could no longer serve.

He had been a political ally of new House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, raising questions about the appearance of cronyism among some lawmakers. They are scheduled to begin redrawing all legislative and congressional districts after the session based on the 2010 census.

But Frank said Friday the residents living in the portions of the two Cedar Hills precincts affected by the apparent error expect it to be corrected as soon as possible this session. It takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate for a law to take effect immediately, and House Republicans couldn't muster enough votes in their caucus.

Frank said he hopes his resignation will make it easier for that vote to occur within a few days.

"There is still a group of citizens that are quite angry over this and they have, in fact, assured me that if the Legislature doesn't fix this in the first week of the session, they will fix it in court," Frank said.

Lockhart said in a statement Friday the issue will be dealt with this session, but did not specify how soon.

She called Frank "a man of upstanding character" and said, "we share his concern about the portion of residents from Cedar Hills who have not had the rightful opportunity to vote for their representation. We expect that the issue will be addressed once the legislative session begins."

Utah County Republicans had already decided to wait until Jan. 29 to choose a new representative for District 57.

Utah County GOP Chairman Taylor Oldroyd said the deadline for filing to run for the seat will be Thursday evening, when delegates are scheduled to meet the candidates at a reception.

"If the Legislature redraws the line, Craig Frank can be a candidate," Oldroyd said. "If not, then he won't be."

e-mail: lisa@desnews.com

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