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Ugly Campaigns Deter Women From Running For Office

Leap Into Leadership

On Monday, women gathered from around the state to attend the tenth annual Leap Into Leadership conference. This year’s conference focused on how to cultivate a more respectful discourse in state politics.

Former U.S. Senator and Bipartisan Policy Center fellow Olympia Snowe was the keynote speaker. She talked about how bipartisanship has never been an easy job, not even when the founding fathers crafted the constitution.

That message was echoed during a panel on civility in modern politics. Former Jackson mayor Sara Flitner said that, while she was dedicated to civility in her campaign for mayor this year, she felt her opponent was not. Former House Minority Leader Mary Throne and other panelists told stories of similar campaigns that used personal attacks to swing the vote.

Flitner says such attacks make it hard for women running for office.

“I see cruelty. I experienced it. I see meanness. I see viciousness and that’s uncalled for. And that debilitates people who want to lead or consider running. It discourages them from doing so,” said Flitner, who is the founder of Flitner Strategies, an organization that works with community leaders to solve local problems.

The Leap Into Leadership Conference is sponsored by the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, a bipartisan group that aims to attract more women to public service. 

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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