Local caucuses give political hopefuls their start

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    By Spencer Parkinson

    To get involved in Utah politics, the best place to start is at local caucuses, which will be held across the state March 25.

    Utah County Republicans and Democrats will meet together as a group to discuss party politics, network with each other and decide who among them will go on to county and state conventions as delegates.

    “Locally, it”s how you get started and get involved,” said Nancy Woodside, chair of the Utah County Democratic Party and candidate for U.S. Congress. “If you want to be a candidate, or if you want to work for the party, it begins at the local level.”

    Chris Jones, a Republican Precinct Chair, said in a student precinct, the chances of a student being elected as a delegate is pretty good.

    To be elected as a delegate, a person must be nominated by someone else and voted for by those in attendance. Jones has been both a county and state delegate.

    “You will need to bring a half a dozen to a dozen friends with you, but there are lots of ways to get those guys to come with you – banana splits at the Cougareat or whatever afterward,” Jones said. “That is a standard political tactic, and I use it myself.”

    All students are encouraged to participate in the caucuses and vote for delegates, regardless of residency, Woodside said.

    A student that wants to run as a delegate must declare residency in their precinct and be a registered member of their party, said Jane Carlile, a Republican precinct chair.

    At a Democratic caucus, the members elect a precinct chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer. These four, and sometimes others, then move on as delegates to the Utah County Annual Democratic Convention held in April and the Utah State Annual Democratic Convention held in May, Woodside said.

    The Republican caucus elects over 1,000 county delegates, who then elect approximately 1,000 state delegates, Jones said.

    At the county level, delegates vote for local party candidates, and at the state level, delegates decide the party”s candidates for state and federal races.

    “The election starts and really happens on March 25,” Jones said. “You elect the party machinery and workers for the next two years.”

    The length of an average caucus is between one and two hours and anywhere from 10 to 60 people usually attend. Jones said time is variable and the number of people who attend is even more unpredictable. All of the caucuses in Utah County begin at 7 p.m.

    The location of the caucuses can be found on each party”s web site.

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