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Legislature, Lt. Gov. honor 40 graduates of program training women to run for office

SALT LAKE CITY — Forty women who completed a six-month program intended to prepare them to run for public office were honored Thursday by the state House and Senate, as well as Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox.

Cox, a member of the Women’s Leadership Institute board, presented certificates to the graduates during a ceremony at the Capitol where he advised them to do "a better job of being obnoxious and saying, 'I'm right here.'"

The lieutenant governor said women need to learn to speak up for raises and the jobs they want, including holding elected office. Too many women, Cox said, don't feel they're qualified.

But there's no reason they shouldn't be looking at running for office and seeing the electorate as "our bosses. They vote for us, and that's how we get the job," he said. "The key is, no one feels qualified for these jobs."

Pat Jones, the former state senator who founded the institute in 2015, said the women already are getting involved.

"We have people in this room today who are already running for office and that will be running for office in the near future and will be influential forever" with other women eying politics, Jones said.

The women were recognized on both the House and Senate floors Thursday.

Over the past three years, the institute has trained more than 120 women through six months of classes. The once-a-month sessions cover all aspects of running a political campaign including finance and social media.

Kat Martinez, who is considering a run for the Murray City Council, praised the training she received.

“Aside from all the practical nuts and bolts of what running a successful campaign looks like, it was incredibly helpful to be reminded that, as women, we should take up space and be heard,” Martinez said.