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Murray Journal

Murray's shake-up: Voters boot appointees, elect Hock and Pickett in city council upheaval

Jan 05, 2024 11:28AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Adam Hock (L) and Paul Pickett (R) were elected to the Murray City Council. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

In a narrow race, Rosalba Dominguez narrowly won re-election over Clark Bullen. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journal

Garry Hrechkosy raised over $27,000 for his campaign but was defeated in the general election. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

In a significant shift in local politics, Murray City voters overturned the status quo by rejecting two city council appointees, David Rodgers and Garry Hrechkosy, in favor of elected representatives in the recent municipal elections. While Rosalba Dominguez successfully defended her seat during the Nov. 21 general election, the unseating of Rodgers and Hrechkosy signals a significant shift in the political landscape of Murray, as two newcomers, Paul Pickett and Adam Hock, will take their seats.

Equally significant was the amount spent on the races. Just in District 5’s (southeast Murray) race, the amount raised by both candidates hovers above $50,000. No previous election for a city council race has racked up such a tab. With excessive amounts being raised and poured into campaigns, one question Murray's political observers raised was why so much money was being spent on a race that attracted 2,760 votes.

Hrechkosy was appointed to the Murray City Council in February 2022, filling a vacancy that arose when Brett Hales vacated his council seat to assume the Mayor's Office. The selection process involved two rounds of voting among the councilmembers. Initially, 12 candidates were considered for the position. As the selection process progressed, Hrechkosy emerged as one of the top three contenders, including Adam Hock, who would later run against Hrechkosy in the municipal elections and was ultimately chosen by the council for the appointment.

According to Hrechkosy, he is the Vice President of Accounting and Controller for MX Technologies. On the ballot, he chose to have his name listed as Garry “CPA” Hrechkosy. Financial disclosures made by Hrechkosy indicated that he raised $27,305. Campaign contributors included State Sen. Kathleen Riebe, who was also running for Congress to fill Chris Stewarts' vacancy, former Salt County Mayor Ben McAdams and Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera. 

Challenging Hrechkosy, Hock lists he is an educator at Murray High and Hillcrest Junior High. According to Hock, he has master’s degrees in religion and American history from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.

Hock raised over $23,126 to compete for the seat. Donors were a bipartisan mix, including the Central Federation of Labor union and Equality Utah.

Clark Bullen, candidate for District 3, said, “I am amazed that over $50k was raised in District 5. I wonder how that compares to other council races in the county. That is a surprising amount of interest and investment in a council race.”

While District 5 was a relatively civil affair, Hrechkosy’s campaign signs urged voters to “Re-elect” when he had actually been appointed to his office. 

Voters chose Hock with 1,552 votes (56.23%) over Hrechkosy with 1,208 votes (43.77%). After his win, Hock posted on social media, “I also want to acknowledge my opponent, Garry Hrechkosy, for a hard-fought campaign. I believe that our shared dedication to public services is a testament to the strength of our democratic process.”

Hrechkosy posted, “We came up short, but I can proudly say that we left it all on the field. The cards were stacked against us, but we persevered and kept on pushing. We knocked on over 4,000 doors, raised over $25k, and made hundreds of phone calls. I am so thankful to everyone who helped us and gave me encouragement. This is not the end. It is just time for a break to regroup and forge ahead. We are not sure what is next, but be sure Utah and the Hrechkosys will be out there again.”

In District 1's (northwest Murray) election, the scenario closely resembled that of District 5. Rodgers became a city councilmember through appointment following Phil Markham's departure in July to lead Murray's Community and Economic Development department. This vacancy originally opened when the elected councilor, Kat Martinez, moved in December 2022, leading to Markham's appointment. Adding to the intrigue, Paul Pickett, Rodgers' electoral opponent, had been a finalist for the same seat that Rodgers eventually filled. The decision to appoint Rodgers was made in an unconventional manner; his name was selected from a hat due to the council's inability to reach a majority decision on a replacement candidate.

Rodgers, in his candidate profile, indicated that he recently graduated from college with a master’s in public administration and was working as a transportation planner for Salt Lake County. For the general election, Rodgers raised $3,960 for his campaign bid.

Contesting Rodgers, Pickett attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and holds a master’s degree from Washington State University. According to Pickett, he has taught secondary school for 22 years. Pickett was close to Rodgers with $3,950 in campaign contributions.

Pickett easily won his race with 696 votes (59.28%) to Rodgers with 478 votes (40.72%). 

Dominguez's re-election presents an intriguing case. In the District 3 (northeast and central Murray) primary election, Dominguez faced four challengers. While she secured 41% of the vote in the primary election, the other challengers combined claimed 59% of the vote, indicating widespread dissonance among voters. 

Emerging as Dominguez’s challenger was Clark Bullen, who collected 28% of primary voters, with many of the other primary candidates endorsing Bullen. District 3 contains downtown Murray, which has received much focus due to large-scale plans to reshape the area.

Dominguez's candidate profile identifies her as the Creative Director and owner of Table 22 and professional development coordinator at Utah Afterschool Network. In her campaign for the general election, Dominguez amassed $7,977 in funds. Notably, her campaign finance report shows that she received over 90 contributions from anonymous donors. However, the majority of these were small donations, which, according to state law, are allowed to be filed without disclosing the donors' names, but the number of anonymous listings exceeded all candidates combined.

Bullen, who lists himself as Director of Implementation at CUI Benefits on his candidate profile, raised $2,447 for the campaign. 

In Murray’s most tightly contested race, Dominguez’s 1,095 votes (52.69%) edged Bullen’s 983 votes (47.31%). 

Bullen, after the end of the race, said, “I'm so grateful for my supporters who trust that I will fight for their vision of Murray. I'll keep advocating for their voice from the outside and encourage more to join the conversation. I loved getting to know so many of our neighbors and look forward to meeting even more. When asked 'What next?' I say, I'm not going anywhere. You can't get rid of me that easily."

Hock and Pickett will be inaugurated in January. λ