Women and girls of all ages filled the Cache County Historic Courthouse chambers Wednesday evening as elected officials and former candidates talked about their campaign trail experiences during a panel discussion.
“Women’s voices need to be heard,” said Cache County Councilwoman Gina Worthen. “Whatever political persuasion, we want women in politics.”
The event was organized by the nonpartisan initiative Real Women Run as a way to provide networking and educational opportunities for women wanting to be more politically involved.
The four women on the panel had recently run for political office, although not all of them won their races. They discussed issues such as why more women are needed in office, having the confidence to run and some of the logistics of organizing a campaign.
Logan Municipal Councilwoman Amy Anderson said she chose to run as a first-time candidate last year because she felt she would do well in the role, but she didn’t have any idea of how to run a campaign.
“It was probably good I didn’t know what I needed to do, because otherwise I probably never would have,” Anderson said.
Anderson said one challenge she faced was thinking of ways people could help with her campaign. She said making a plan with information from previous candidates could have helped her better utilize volunteers.
“Offers of help only go so far if you don’t give somebody an assignment,” Anderson said.
Panel members also addressed the importance of encouraging other women to run.
“If you know people, ask them to run,” Worthen said. “Help each other out that way, because as women we need that strength from each other.”
According to Worthen, women may be more critical of themselves and more worried about whether or not they are qualified than men are.
“We think we might not be as good as the guys, but heck, we are,” Worthen said. “We are awesome.”
Former Cache County School Board candidate Shellie Giddings discussed the importance of children being involved in campaigns. Over the years she and her kids have helped with many campaigns. Because of this, some of them now have political aspirations.
“Show your children the example of the other women who are (running),” Giddings said. “Teach them that you can do it.”
In encouraging women to run, Worthen said it was important to remember the other ways to contribute to campaigns and to never guilt women who choose not to run.
“Let’s make sure that we let them know how much that we appreciate what they do and that they are part of that team as well,” Worthen said.
As she serves in office, Worthen said she is learning how much influence people can have even if they aren’t elected but are educated and support issues they value.
“In doing that, you also get to know people and your network grows so that if you do want to run for office, then you are known,” Worthen said.