All of the vote tallies for Utah’s recent special election for the 2nd Congressional District have now been counted and certified. Refreshingly, there were multiple women on the ballot and Utah will again have a woman representative in the United States Congress. 

Unfortunately, women were very underrepresented in the dozens of nonpartisan city council races and other municipal races which were also on the ballot last month. Here is my unofficial count of the number of candidates and number of people elected to office looking along the Wasatch Front and St. George (results from Salt Lake County, Utah County, Summit County, Tooele County, Davis County, Weber County and Washington County).


  • 362 men (72.16%).
  • 142 women (27.84%).


  • 190 men (66.90%).
  • 94 women (33.10%).

Sadly, in these counties there were 10 major cities that each had between four to eight male candidates for city council but did not have a single woman candidate on the ballot for city council: American Fork, Bluffdale, Herriman, Kaysville, Lindon, Ogden, Park City, Riverton, Washington and West Jordan.

The silver lining in the numbers above is that 94 of the 142 women who ran for office got elected. In other words, when women run for office in Utah, they actually do pretty well. Utah must do a better job encouraging more women to run for office!  

Studies indicate that women are less likely to consider running than men. The Brookings Institute conducted a survey in 2001, 2011 and 2021 looking at the decision-making process for men and women deciding to run for office and found a shocking “Ambition Gap,” in which men were far more likely to consider running for office than women. In each study, they conducted a survey of 4,000 potential candidates (people with professional backgrounds such as lawyers, businesspeople, educators and political activists).

The studies yielded interesting statistics, which have not really changed at all during the last 20 years:

Have you considered running for elected office?

  • 59% of men had considered running.
  • 43% of women had considered running.

Are you “very qualified” to run for office?

  • 36% of men said yes.
  • 20% of women said yes.

Would you rate yourself as “not qualified” to run for office?

  • 8% of men said yes.
  • 24% of women said yes.
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Additionally, “Men are two-thirds more likely than women to have been encouraged to run by an elected official, party leader or political activist. They are 40% more likely to receive the suggestion to run from a colleague, spouse or family member.”

Unfortunately, the window to file to be a candidate in Utah is poorly timed (it is too early in the year and right after the holidays) and only stays open for an unreasonably short time frame (five business days). If you want to be a candidate in November 2024, you must file your candidate papers between Jan. 2 and Jan. 8, 2024. The Utah Legislature should correct this filing window (which serves to deter candidates from filing) by moving it back in the year to March or April and keeping the filing window open for multiple weeks.

They say women need to be “tapped on the shoulder” two or three times and encouraged to run before they will do so. If you are a woman reading this article, please consider this one “tap on the shoulder.” Our cities and state need you. It is certainly worth thinking about over the holidays. If you are a man reading this article, please reach out to a woman you know and encourage her to run for office in 2024. Our cities and state will be better for it. 

Ladd Johnson is the chair of the United Utah Party.

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