Utah County Republicans hosted a private seminar at the Provo Marriott hotel this June to teach hopeful attendees how to run for elected office in the state.
The Prospective Candidate Information Seminar was an invitation-only event as keynote speakers Utah Senator Curt Bramble and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love took the stage to address the need for more participation in civic duty. The seminar outlined the support systems needed to form a strong campaign, fundraising tips and the basic structure of a successful campaign management team.
The Utah County Republican Party Chair, 24-year-old Casey Voeks, won his election last month and served as moderator for the seminar.
“As a party, we want to see more young people become engaged,” Voeks said. “Not disenfranchised, not marginalized, not discredited. I think young people need to step up — it’s up to the individual.”
Nearly half of all publicly held offices in Utah elections run uncontested, according to literature from the seminar. BYU and UVU campuses represent almost 20 percent of Utah County’s total population.
“So many young people are intimidated by the atmosphere and don’t speak up,” Voeks said, referring to the delegate and voting process. “People don’t realize how much of a difference they can make if they just choose to.”
A rising GOP contender on the national stage, Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love lost against incumbent Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson in a tight 2012 race for the congressional seat in Washington. She said candidates need to remember why they are running.
“If you are not grounded in something, you leave yourself vulnerable to be used for someone else’s task,” Love said. “Or you may end up sacrificing so much of your time and accomplishing nothing.”
She also said a campaign needs to include more than facts and statistics and that reaching constituents means touching their hearts.
“People will always make the decision emotionally before they make it intellectually,” Love said.
The seminar presented how having a supportive family is key for potential candidates to bear the stresses involved in running their first bids for public office. For example, an involved spouse must understand that opinions of the candidate may arise throughout a campaign, and opposing supporters often use untruths to tip polls numbers.
“Be an example,” Love said regarding her three young children. “Because eventually they’ll end up having their own voice, but in the mean time you are their voice. You are their vote.”
Veteran campaign consultant Kim Coleman outlined five essential positions to fill within a campaign’s management team:
- Financial & legal compliance
- Volunteer Coordinator
In order to hold free and fair elections, federal regulations must be followed, including how to report campaign finances to knowing what must be included on direct mailers. Filling these five positions will help ensure that a candidate’s campaign runs smoothly.
Coleman strongly advised not appointing a spouse to be a campaign manager.
James Addis attended the prospective candidate seminar with plans to run in the next state senate election.
“I believe the Republican Party as it is has to change or we will start losing votes,” Addis said. “As I talk with more and more people, I find that people are displeased with the party and send their votes elsewhere.”
He said the state Republicans in office have turned “the reddest state in the Union” into a “nanny state” of government and that he wants traditional conservative values better represented.
As Chairman for Utah County’s Republican Party, Voeks said his job is more than just getting Republicans elected.
“My job as chair is to see our Republican values and principles become legislation,” Voeks said.
The upcoming elections for Provo’s public offices include bids for mayor and three city council seats. The deadline to announce candidacy in Provo municipal elections passed on June 7.