May 28, 2022

Letter to the Editor: Female leadership in Southern Utah government – representation, not identity politics

Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City, date not specified | Photo by Clayton Andersen/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION — After American colonists cast tea into the harbor more than two hundred years ago, their cries of “no taxation without representation” have resonated powerfully with every generation of Americans since. As Americans, we believe deeply in the democratic process and in the idea that good government is representative government.

Unfortunately, in our own beloved Washington County, half of our population is unrepresented at the Utah State Legislature. Though women and girls make up 50% of the population of Washington County, they currently make up 0% of our legislative delegation.

We are past due for a shift toward true representation in our community, especially when considering some of the major and relevant issues facing our state today. These issues include abortion (the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade will send abortion regulations back to states), transgender participation in girls’ sports, education, the impact of inflation on households and more.

These are not “women’s issues” because there are no separate women’s issues, but rather women’s perspectives on every issue – perspectives that must be heard and considered in lawmaking for the process to actually be representative.

Our informed male legislators must hear the women in their lives and among their constituencies, but that is not enough. We also require women legislators who can sponsor legislation and speak honestly and passionately during legislative debates. Most of all, we need women legislators who can vote on bills. This is representation.

Shouldn’t women – those who actually experience pregnancy and childbirth – be a pivotal voice in the debate about abortion? Women are particularly equipped to understand the many complex facets of this issue, including how each bill would impact victims of rape (1 in 9 high school girls in Utah have been forced to have intercourse when they did not want to – rape is sadly not an uncommon occurrence), how each bill would impact women whose lives or health are endangered by pregnancy, and women experiencing an involuntary miscarriage (at least 10-20% of all U.S. pregnancies tragically end in involuntary miscarriage).

By the same token, women who have experienced the benefits of girls’ sports should be voting on every bill regarding transgender girls competing athletically against biological girls. Women, especially mothers, who are typically most involved in their children’s schooling, should be voting on every bill concerning education. Women who, in 80% of two-parent U.S. households, do most of the household grocery shopping, should be voting on every bill that addresses inflation or taxes on goods because they are best prepared to recognize the impact of a few cents on every dollar. The list goes on and on. Every essential issue that directly impacts Southern Utah households requires women’s perspectives within the legislative voting process for correct, down-to-earth decision-making to happen.

Remember, this discussion is about representation, not identity politics. Not every man is prepared to serve in an elected position, and the same is true about women. However, when qualified and competent women choose to run for office – as they are now in Washington County – every voter has the privilege and responsibility to research them and consider their merits and to celebrate the opportunity to vote to right the wrong that has continued under our watch for too long. Women and girls deserve representation and all of society deserves to benefit from their experiences and service.

Submitted by KRISTEN CLARKE, mother of six, community activist and 2021 president of the Washington County Republican Women.

Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.

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