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Training Aims to Reverse Declining Numbers of Utah Women in Politics

Women planning to run for political office in Utah have an opportunity to get some spring training Saturday. The organization Real Women Run is offering a day of workshops for those working on their campaigns. The training comes at a time when the number of elected female leaders in the state is dwindling.

Real Women Run has been holding these training events for the last several years to try to recruit and train women to run for office. Morgan Lyon Cotti is the State Program Manager at the Hinckley Institute of Politics, where the training takes place.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen a decline in the number of women in office in Utah, and we’re hoping that these measures will correct that,” Cotti says. She says the decline is especially notable among Republicans. “With the caucus system, we’ve seen that especially with the Republican party, most of those delegates are men - nearly 75 percent - and I think we’re finding that it’s harder and harder for Republican women to get through that process and even make it to a primary or a general election.”

State Representative Patrice Arent is helping to provide some of the training. She’s the Democratic caucus manager for the Utah House, and even she says she would like to see more Republican women running for office. She says the legislature should reflect the population.

“When I first was elected, I had a lot of mentors that were Republican women that helped me along the way,” Arent says. “Right now, there are only three Republican women in the entire Utah House, and that’s sad.”

Morgan Lyon Cotti says the state also lost some great political mentors when former Salt Lake Mayor DeeDee Corradini and former Utah House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart died this year.

“That will certainly leave a gap,” Cotti says. “We’re hoping that Real Women Run will still be able to provide some of that mentorship, and that we can have new women to look up to as well.”

The workshops at the one-day training event are led by female state and local office-holders of both parties.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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