Utah County’s chapter of the League of Women Voters of Utah disbanded in the 1990s as younger generations got less involved with the group. Now, at the start of a new decade, the Utah County chapter is back.
In Utah and nationally, the nonpartisan League of Women Voters aims to get women involved in politics at all levels of government and to be a voice in their local elections.
The local chapter celebrated its relaunching on Saturday at the Community Presbyterian Church in American Fork by discussing the importance of women participating in local, state and federal politics, and what issues in Utah will be pertinent to women this year.
“We are not starting a new chapter,” said Tay Gudmundson, who serves as chair of the Utah County league. “We are igniting what was left of our old chapter.”
Gudmundson told the group of about three dozen attendees, mainly women, that the recently passed state tax reform and a citizen referendum filed in response are things civically engaged Utahns should pay attention to this year. She also said women in the state and county should focus on air quality and what the state Legislature is doing about it.
“It’s a big deal to see that you’re not alone” as a politically involved woman in the county, said Gudmundson, who ran for Vineyard City Council last year.
Saturday’s event happened just a month before the 100th anniversary of the launch of the League of Women Voters, a national organization with thousands of local chapters. This year is also the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote.
Sharlee Mullins Glenn, founder of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, pointed out that women in the country have only had a voice in politics for a fraction of human history. Glenn said women should vote and engage civically not only for future generations, but also for women worldwide who didn’t have these rights for thousands of years.
Recently, there has been a “groundswell of activism and engagement” in the world, Glenn said, “much of it led by women.”
“There’s something happening worldwide,” Glenn said, mentioning the #MeToo movement and other recent feminist pushes across the globe, like Liberia electing Africa’s first female head of state in 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who finished her second term in 2018.
Susan Madsen, founder of the Utah Women and Leadership project at Utah Valley University, said governments operate more effectively when a variety of perspectives are represented.
States with more women in office typically place greater emphasis on education, health care and social programs that address poverty, Madsen said.
Being represented politically “matters so much for women,” Madsen said. “And it starts with voting.”
The group of women also addressed voter apathy and Utahns feeling like their votes don’t matter.
“As a citizen in a democracy, it is our moral duty and our sacred responsibility and right to vote,” Glenn said.
Tara Gregory and Madeline Beck told the group about Girls Lobby, a group started by Brigham Young University students, including Gregory and Beck, that helps high school-aged girls in the state get connected to their local representatives and teaches them how to lobby and track bills.
Now that the Utah County chapter is active once again, Gudmundson said she and others will work with women in the county to gain a better sense of what local and state issues deserve attention this year.
Vickie Samuelson, who is co-president of the state league, said it is a “big deal” that the county relaunched its chapter.
“It’s going to be a movement down here to get (women) involved in their local politics,” Samuelson said.
Timpview High School’s mathletes are celebrating after taking home their first national win in a March Madness-style competition.
The school placed first in the Division IIE of the 2019 American Mathematics Competitions/AcreteLabs Mathematics National Championship, held over several weeks throughout the fall, beating out a pool of private and math-centric magnet schools.
“We can stand up to anybody,” said Anne Crosland, a math teacher at Timpview High School. “We have as much talent and enthusiasm.”
The online, team-based competition includes 30-minute, eight-question tests that students take online weekly. The competition takes a team’s top scores, which means no student’s score hurts the team.
After two qualifying rounds, teams move on to direct elimination rounds that continue bracket style.
Crosland said that a lot of students won’t get a single of the eight questions correct.
“If they get two of the problems, it’s awesome,” Crosland said.
She said the school’s math competition teams and their wins have attracted more students to the subject.
“What happens over the years is there’s more enthusiasm and more kids are taking math classes,” she said.
In addition to a winning math team, the school is also the only Utah high school that Crosland knows of that offers linear algebra to its students.
The students took the test for their final round of competition earlier in the week than their competitor. From there, Crosland said they waited to hear by email that they’d won.
The team members see the competitions as different from their homework.
“It’s a lot more intriguing and fun,” said James Camacho, who along with his brothers, James and David Camacho, are some of the winning team’s high scorers.
The team came together weekly to compete, eat pizza and enjoy math.
“You can apply math in a lot of different ways,” David Camacho said.
The Orem City Council will discuss and vote on requirements for cannabis production establishments and medical cannabis pharmacies in the city during Tuesday’s regular council meeting.
This will be a public hearing and residents will be allowed to comment.
“This is preemptive on our part,” said Jason Bench, city planner.
Bench said the city felt it was prudent they be prepared as growers and pharmacies are allowed in Orem.
The state recently released the location of pharmacies that will be dispensing medical marijuana. Utah County will have three: in Lindon, Provo and Springville.
“We had quite a few phone calls from people (potential growers) wanting to come into our city. We pushed them off until we could get this ordinance in place,” Bench said. “We were hesitant to give approval until the council approved the changes.”
The state regulates both growers and pharmacies but is allowing cities to specify how many zones they will be allowed in.
When it comes to pharmacies, they will be allowed in all retail zones, but the growers will be limited to one — the M2 zone.
According to Bench, the M2 (heavy manufacturing) is a zone where applicants would be more likely to locate as there are a few more location options there. It is on the north side of the city between Interstate 15 and Geneva Road.
Residents could see a pharmacy along State Street in the future.
The language of the council agenda application said that it is in “the best interest of the city and is reasonably necessary because it will bring city ordinances pertaining to medical cannabis uses into compliance with state law and will allow medical cannabis uses in the City subject to the requirements of state law as well as other regulations designed to promote the public welfare.”
The medical cannabis issue has had a long journey to finally get to the actual dispensing and growing stage.
In November 2018, Utah voters approved Proposition 2, which made medical marijuana legal in the state. The state Legislature passed House Bill 3001 on Dec. 3, 2018, which was signed by the governor and became law.
Among the elements of the bill specific to cities was a requirement that cities provide in their zoning code a place for cannabis cultivation facilities and cannabis pharmacies, according to the bill wording.
While the state regulations allows for growing in several zones, Bench said the city wants to limit it to one location.
Bench said they looked at Ogden’s new code and wrote a similarly worded code for Orem. It was vetted by Orem city attorney Stephen Earl.
If the council chooses to do nothing on Tuesday or vote no, Orem would still be regulated by the state.