Last Wednesday night, after all potential candidates had declared their intention to run for Lehi City’s upcoming elections, we surveyed the names. We noticed one thing immediately: no women. In a way, this is not unusual. Most political offices on a local, state, and national level are held by men. Lehi has one member of the City Council who is a woman, Paige Albrecht. While we thank and applaud her public service, we want more.
Women represent half of Lehi’s voting population, yet over the years women have been woefully underrepresented on Lehi City Council, and Lehi has never had a female mayor. There have been a few wonderful women who have served on the City Council over the years, most notably, the late Francis Comer and JoAnne Brown. Currently Carolyn Player, Carma Johnson, and Kaye Collins are the only living women who formerly served on the city council.
In Utah County, there are no female mayors. Midway and Wallsburg have female mayors, and Salt Lake City has a female mayor. There are 104 people serving in the Utah State Legislature, and only 20 are women. None of those women are from Lehi, which has become the 10th largest city in the state.
There are probably a lot of reasons women don’t run for political office as often as men. Some women may say it’s because they are too busy with their families, but men have families too and still manage to hold public office. Women may say they don’t want to face public scrutiny, but frankly, statistics show that women’s lives in general are less fraught with scandal. According to a recent study, “it is well supported in research that more men than women commit crimes.” (Walker, Maddan 2016 Understanding Statistics for the Social Sciences, Criminal Justice, and Criminology.)
Maybe women don’t run in Utah County because patriarchy is still a strong undercurrent in leadership roles in nearly every organization, both secular and non-secular. Maybe women just aren’t interested in politics. Based on dozens of sidewalk conversations, I don’t think that’s the case.
Maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe women are just afraid or have never seriously considered the opportunity. Ladies of Lehi, we need your experience, we need your wisdom and vision. We need you to be brave and run for public office.