Later this year, Utahns will decide who they will send to Washington, D.C., to represent them in the Senate for the next six years. Regardless of your feelings about Sen. Mike Lee, his time is up. Lee has long been an outspoken proponent of term limits (two terms for a senator, according to the legislation that he himself co-sponsored), and yet he is running for a third term.

It’s time for a change, and it’s well beyond time for that change to be a female senator for Utah. 

Historically, Utah has been at the forefront of women’s involvement in politics. In 1870, Utah women became the first in the U.S. to vote under an equal suffrage act. And in 1896, Utah was the first state in the Union to elect a female state senator — Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon. But Utah has yet to send a woman to Washington as a senator. 

Numerous studies have conclusively established that when women are involved in governing, there are significant, quantifiable benefits for all. Women tend to work in more collaborative, bipartisan ways; care more about issues affecting families, children, education and public health; listen more closely and be more responsive to their constituents; and employ a more democratic leadership style.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Political Science, women in Congress are also highly effective. They sponsor and co-sponsor more bills than their male counterparts do, and bring 9% more federal money to their states/districts. Women are also able to build coalitions and reach consensus more quickly. An extensive study conducted by the Joint Research Centre concludes that governments worldwide that have higher female representation are “more impartial, more efficient, and less corrupt.”

Half of Utah’s population is female, and yet all six of our current representatives in D.C. are male. Everyone benefits from more equal representation. The research clearly shows that better decisions are made when a multiplicity of perspectives are considered.

The good news is that Utahns don’t have to look far to find a highly qualified female candidate. Becky Edwards is already challenging Mike Lee in the Republican Primary. Edwards is a capable, experienced lawmaker who served in the Utah Legislature for 10 years. She brings with her a lifetime of experience, not only as a highly effective legislator, but as a dedicated community volunteer, a professional therapist, a mother and grandmother, a devoted church member and a committed civic leader. She is a principled, sensible and compassionate moderate who listens and knows how to work with others to get things done.

Lee, unfortunately, has shown himself to be a polarizing and divisive obstructionist. Edwards, on the other hand, is a proven unifier who achieves real results. Edwards will bring civility, honor and decency back into the political arena. 

While Lee has millions of dollars at his disposal from out-of-state backers and super PACS, Becky Edwards is doing the hard work of traveling the state to meet and talk with people, listen to their concerns and garner grassroots support. Whereas 89% of the contributions to Edwards’ campaign have come from individual, everyday Utahns, only 11.97% of Lee’s itemized individual contributions are from Utahns, according to the official FEC reports from the third quarter of last year. Furthermore, while Edwards is mobilizing volunteers to help gather the 28,000 signatures needed to ensure that she is on the Republican primary ballot, Lee has hired an independent firm to gather the signatures for him.

The choice is clear. Attend your neighborhood caucus on March 8 and become a delegate to the state Republican convention.

It’s time, Utah.

Sharlee Mullins Glenn founded Mormon Women for Ethical Government in January 2017 and served as its executive director until 2019. She currently sits on the external advisory board of Brigham Young University’s Office of Civic Engagement and does volunteer work for Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services. Her views are her own.