Women candidates made modest gains in Utah during the 2018 midterms

While it may not have been the “Year of the Women” in Utah politics, as in other states this election a lot of women ran for the state Legislature and local county offices, a review by UtahPolicy.com finds.

In five of the 75 state House races, the only candidates on the ballot Nov. 6 were women.

Here are some of the numbers:

  • 47 women were on the general election ballot in the 75 House seats up for election this year. That is an impressive number.
  • 19 women won their House contests, and so the 2019 House will be 24 percent women.

That is an increase of four women over their numbers in the 2018 House.

Senators are elected to four-year terms, and there were 15 elections in the 29-member Senate.

Seven women were on the Nov. 6 ballot in those 15 elections.

And four won their contests.

Because Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, resigned her post this summer and was replaced by a man, and because Democrat Kathleen Riebe defeated Sen. Brian Zehnder, R-Cottonwood Heights, the number of women in the Senate will remain at six, or 20 percent of the body.

The new women coming into the House, replacing men, are:

  • Lou Shurtleff, D-Ogden.
  • Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper.
  • Stephanie Pitcher, D-Millcreek.
  • Marsha Judkins, R-Provo.

Also, Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, retired and is being replaced by Melissa Garff Ballard, R-North Salt Lake.

The other women elected in the House this year were incumbents running for re-election.

In Salt Lake County, by far the state’s largest:

Councilwomen Aimee Winder Newton and Ann Granato won re-election.

County Sheriff Rosie Rivera and Clerk Sherry Swensen, both Democrats, won re-election.

And Democrat Rashelle Hobbs defeated Recorder Adam Gardner, a Republican.

Of course, Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, the first African-American female Republican ever elected to the U.S. House, was defeated by Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, a man.

So that was a big loss on the gender front in the Beehive State.

Utah has had only one female governor, the late-Olene Walker, who stepped up to the high office when she was lieutenant governor and Gov. Mike Leavitt resigned to take an appointment in President George W. Bush’s administration.

Walker was defeated in her first re-election attempt in the GOP state convention.

There has not been a female U.S. senator from Utah, and only a handful of female U.S. representatives from here.

Women make up just over 50 percent of the Utah population, and so remain under-represented in the state Legislature, even with the gains made in the 2018 elections.

One sign of the times, however, came in Utah House District 22, won by incumbent Rep. Susan Duckworth, D-Magna, where there were four candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot, all of them women.