Women from five Utah counties turn to Aimee Winder Newton for political insightDec 06, 2021 03:40PM ● By Carl Fauver
Salt Lake County Councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton (white jacket) has now offered three Government 101 classes in her Taylorsville home, to encourage more women to become involved in politics. (Photo courtesy Aimee Winder Newton)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Be honest, if you follow politics, particularly at the national level, you’ve had to rely upon Google a couple of times in 2021. We weren’t even a week into the new year, when many of has had to use the search engine, because we weren’t completely sure we understood what “insurrection” means.
Skip ahead to this fall, and we were back at our keyboards, to figure out who Brandon is and why big crowds are chanting for him in so many places. Wasn’t that a fun rabbit hole?
There’s no question, the wonderful world of politics has gotten much more cutthroat in the 25 years since longtime Taylorsville resident Aimee Winder Newton first waded into the arena. She began in 1996 as the public relations spokesperson for the Taylorsville–Bennion incorporation effort. Fifteen years later, she was named Taylorsville City’s first communication director. And now, for the past eight years, she has represented Taylorsville residents (and others) on the Salt Lake County Council.
“You look at the nastiness of politics now and you have to wonder who’s going to jump into that,” Winder Newton said. “It’s not as bad here in Utah as it is on the national level. But even here, I did see more of it when I was running for governor last year. I know the current climate is stopping some women from entering politics. But they are still needed.”
Winder Newton cites a Harvard study that finds businesses with both men and women around the decision-making table have better outcomes.
“The research shows that is true in business, and I am sure the same is true in government,” she said.
That’s one reason why Winder Newton continues to open her home for periodic, free “Government 101” classes for women. The first, held in the summer of 2017, counted Meredith Harker among its students. Just a few months after that, Harker was elected to the Taylorsville City Council. Four years later, last month, she was unopposed for a second four-year council term.
Also last month, Aimee Winder Newton hosted her third class. She said preparing for it was much more difficult than the first two.
“When women sign up for the class, I ask which city they live in so I can customize the information and discuss the form of government they have where they live,” she said. “That wasn’t too tough for the first two classes, because all of the students were Salt Lake County residents. But this time, the class of 24 attendees came from five different counties: Salt Lake, Davis, Utah, Weber and even Carbon County.”
Wellington resident Kathy Hascall, 67, won the award for “furthest traveled” class attendee. She said Winder Newton’s nearly three-hour class was well worth the two-hour drive, each way, from her Carbon County home, near Price.
“Aimee opens her home for the class, and is just amazing,” Hascall said. “It was really refreshing. Aimee wants to get people involved because she wants a better life for the people around her. I was inspired.”
So much so, Hascall said, that the mother of five and grandmother to 12 has now enrolled in college courses to better prepare her for a future political campaign.
“I may run for a Wellington City position or the Carbon County Commission or, who knows, maybe the state legislature,” she said. “If we want things to change, we have to be a part of the change. I feel a sense of urgency to do what I can. I’m not sure what race I will enter. But I know I want to do my part to make a difference.”
That can-do spirit is music to Winder Newton’s ears. She only wishes more women felt like Hascall.
“I think men are more willing to jump into things, even if they don’t have all the answers,” Winder Newton said. “When I first ran for county council, I didn’t really know all the things the county does. My first few years I was drinking from a fire hose. But you engage; you learn. That’s what I want more women to do. We need them.”
As for Aimee Winder Newton, she’s not sure what her political future holds. Salt Lake County’s first female Republican on the council will close her second, full four-year term a year from now.
Are you ready to officially announce your reelection candidacy?
“Not yet, but ask me in a month,” she said.
What about another run for governor?
“I’m not thinking about that now, she said. “But I have not ruled it out.”
As for the next “Government 101” class, Winder Newton asks women to keep an eye on her Facebook page: @AWinderNewton.