Democratic congressional candidate Donna McAleer visited WSU Wednesday to speak on women in the military and their lack of presence in government.
McAleer started by asking if everyone in the audience was registered to vote and encouraging them to exercise their right.
“Elections are how we change things in this country,” McAleer said. “Despite what you might think, voting is important. Our vote is our voice.”
McAleer outlined what she is passionate about for this election, which included equality in gender issues, sexual assault in military and the replacement of candidates who have been in office for many years.
“I am an advocate for term limits,” McAleer said. “The term is our limit, and bad politicians are elected when good people don’t vote.”
McAleer would like to see more women hold positions in government. Currently in Utah, there are 104 seats in legislature, 17 of which are women, and five of those women are retiring. If more women are not elected, Utah will be left with only two women holding government seats.
Nationally, there are 535 seats in congress, 97 of which are women.
“At the national level,” McAleer said, “the most glaring and ironic lack of female representation in the longest running democracy on the planet takes place.” She added that women in power would cooperate more than men would, and women are more likely to work together toward solving problems.
Real Women Run is an organization that works toward empowering women in government and getting them more involved in politics. McAleer is trying to assist with this as well, encouraging women to run. She believes that many women are too intimidated to initiate a campaign because they do not see themselves as being as qualified as men. Campaigns require reaching out for help, which can be a deterrent for many thinking of running.
Not only does McAleer hope to see more women hold positions in government but also to see more women vote. Many candidates reach out to women who have not yet registered to vote, a minority they hope to reform.
WSU’s American Association of University Women sponsored McAleer’s visit. Lauralee Kohl, vice president of AAUW on campus, was excited to have McAleer speak on gender issues.
“It’s great to work with her [McAleer] to empower women,” Kohl said. “It’s a great experience to have her come speak about women and making a difference in government.”
Kohl had invited republican candidate Rob Bishop to speak as well. However, he declined.
Bishop has made appearances on campus for other events, including a debate with McAleer. Bishop encourages people to vote, but does not wish to force this right upon people, stating that the will of the people must be represented. If everyone voted, it would defeat the purpose of having your voice heard.
Bishop also disagrees with McAleer about seeing cooperation in politics. Though he would like to see more representation and communication, he does not believe gender determines how well those in government get along.
“Women can be effective or ineffective,” Bishop said. “That just depends on who the person is. Women and men have individual qualities that determine their cooperation.”
Weber State belongs to district one. Candidates include Democrat Donna McAleer, Independent American Dwayne A.Vance, Republican Rob Bishop and Libertarian Craig Bowden.
Utah’s general election day is November 4, in most counties. For more information on districts and voting, visit vote.utah.gov.