SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Following a special caucus election, Karen Kwan (D-Taylorsville) has been appointed on Monday, Jan. 16, to fill the vacant Utah Senate seat left by Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City) after she resigned earlier this month due to health reasons.

“Though I am saddened by the circumstances, I am elated to be the next senator for District 12,” Kwan said in a social media post. “Senator Mayne has been a champion for working people and a true public servant.”

Previously a House Representative for District 31, Kwan will serve as the senator for District 12, which covers parts of West Valley City, Kearns and Taylorsville, beginning Jan. 17 as the 2023 legislative session commences. 

“Representative Kwan has been a wonderful public servant, and I am grateful to call her a friend,” said Salt Lake County Council Member Suzanne Harrison. “She will do exceptional work in Senate District 12, and I wholeheartedly endorse her.”

Kwan thanked all her supporters and the delegates who voted for her in the special election on Monday.

“I look forward to delivering for our community and making Utah a better place,” the new senator said. “In the meantime, I am getting ready to get to work on the eve of the legislative session.”

Kwan began her legislative career in 2016 when she defeated Macade Jensen to represent House District 34. She won the general election last November to represent House District 31. Outside of legislative work, Kwan works as an associate professor at Salt Lake Community College.

“The Senate Democrats eagerly welcome her policy expertise and thorough commitment to representing her constituents,” said Utah Senate Minority Leader Sen. Luz Escamilla. “Her effectiveness in the Legislature and eye for strategic partnerships to usher meaningful policy to support all Utahns will be a crucial addition to the Senate Minority Caucus. We are energized and ready to commence the 2023 General Session as a unified front for positive change. Congratulations, Senator-elect Kwan.”

As Mayne was previously the Minority Whip, Utah Senate Democrats elected Sen. Kathleen Riebe to fill in her position during the special election as well. The new leadership team for the 65th Legislature now includes:

  • Senator Luz Escamilla, D – District 10, Minority Leader
  • Senator Kathleen Riebe, D – District 15, Minority Whip
  • Senator Jennifer Plumb, D – District 9, Minority Assistant Whip
  • Senator Stephanie Pitcher, D – District 14, Minority Caucus Manager