At least 3 women pick up seats in UT legislature

Politics

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) The Utah State legislature looks a little different after a historic midterm election.  

At least three more women will walk the steps of the capitol next year, after beating out male candidates.  Two women picked up seats in the house and one in the Senate.

After years on the State School Board, teacher Kathleen Riebe‘s (D) ready to take Brian Zehnder’s (R) seat as the senator for District 8. She collected 56% of the vote against the incumbent.

“I was a truck driver and a bartender,” Riebe said. “I’ve done a lot of male-dominated jobs so I think that’s what gave me an incentive.”

She’s joining five other women to make up 21 percent of the Senate. That’s still below the national average of 25 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislators

“I never in a million years thought this is where I’d be. But when I’ve gone to meetings and I’ve seen what’s going on, I really just had to step up to the plate and change things,” Riebe said. 

After losing by just five votes in the last election, Suzanne Harrison took House District 32 in Salt Lake County. She took LaVar Christensen’s empty Senate seat after beating Brad Bonham (R) also by 56 percent.

The part-time physician and full-time mom said she ran for her children. 

“I want our kids, both the boys and the girls, to see that whatever it is that fills your soul and makes you happy is what you should pursue,” said Harrison.

Eighteen women will decide Utah law in the House of Representatives, slightly changing the balance of power to 24 percent. Both women agree their minority status is a strength on Capitol Hill.

“I think if more things ran like the PTAs of Utah, the world would be a better place. Moms getting together and working to solve problems and find common ground, a lot of good comes from that,” Harrison said.

There could be one more. On Election Night, Democrat Deana Froerer held a 25 vote lead for House District 8 against Republican Steve Waldrip in Weber County. The race will be decided after the votes are canvased later this month.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 Utah team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 Utah News at 4 Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time.. Read More...

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