Dammit, Mollie: writing candidate becomes first female mayor in Utah city’s 170-year history

PAROWAN, Utah (ABC4) – Mollie Halterman was growing nervous as she watched the time go by while expecting big news Tuesday night.

As a mayoral candidate for the small but growing town of Parowan in Iron County, with a population of around 3,000, she had worked tirelessly on a campaign based on positivity, inspiration and action.

Although she was not on the ballot, she had gone to great lengths to poll the city, share her platform and qualifications for the job, and even provided visual aids on how to write her name as voter choice for mayor.

“Damn, write Mollie,” had become one of his campaign’s strongest messaging slogans.

As the votes were counted by Iron County officials, she asked her husband, Sam, to accompany her into town to remove her placards and banners, while expecting to hear from the results elections by phone or e-mail.

Finally, around 10 pm, as the Haltermans were cleaning up Mollie’s red, white and blue signs scattered throughout the community, an email arrived from Iron County Clerk Jon Whittaker; things were going well for her campaign as she had a considerable lead over the elected candidates.

It was safe to call her on Wednesday – ABC4.com confirmed provisional results with Parowan Town Hall – Halterman had won the election, making her the first female mayor in the city’s 170-year history .

“I was absolutely stunned,” she recalls hearing the news the day before. “And so excited, because I just wasn’t expecting this turnout and not just the number of people who voted, but the strength of that support that was given to me. And it was so humiliating and upsetting.

While she may have been shocked by the results, winning the city’s first post – a first not only for a woman but also for a writing candidate – Halterman is confident she is qualified and ready to take on the job. position thanks to her time as President of the Chamber of Commerce and the effort she has made to learn from other leaders of similar communities.

“It was essential for me to know that I could be effective,” says Halterman. “And once that all comes together, I’m like, ‘Okay, I’ll do it.’ And then I was into it and it was great, I couldn’t have done it without some help, it was really exciting to have the community behind me.

Halterman’s pioneering election comes on the 125th anniversary of the first time Utah women have entered and held public office. On Wednesday in 1896, in the first Utah-wide election after being granted state status, 14 women, including Dr. Martha Cannon, who was placed in a state senate seat, were elected .

Although much has changed since the 1890s, the election results in the Parowan mayoral race were still quite unprecedented. Interestingly, Halterman noted while going through the city’s municipal code in his preparation for the race that every reference to the mayor and his responsibilities was made in the form of a pronoun. She expects that to change when she takes office.

Getting the code corrected was one of his last concerns throughout his campaign. Despite his experience as a bridge between the city government and local businesses, Halterman, who owns a gym in Parowan, was not even sure whether to participate in the race until the last minute. She spent most of her time away from her small business, babysitting her mother, who was terminally ill. While caring for her mother at home, Halterman says she was always encouraged by her mother to take her community engagement to the next level by running for town hall. She pushed him away.

“She would say, ‘Do it,’ Halterman recalls, saying her mother said,“ But I was like, ‘Mum, no. This time with us together is too important.

However, when her mother passed shortly before the deadline to declare herself a candidate in writing, Halterman took the plunge and threw her hat in the ring.

On the way to the final victory, although official results have yet to be announced, Halterman was amazed at the support she received. His best guess is that his message of optimism, headlined by another of his campaign slogans, “Positively for Parowan,” gave him a boost.

“I believe optimism and positivity are the most powerful catalyst for change,” says Halterman. “I think we all hear too much negative stuff, it all sounds too big and too overwhelming. When everything we hear is negative I don’t think it inspires. But when you talk about positive change, people feel energetic, they feel energized, they want to be around that energy, they feel like they could make a difference.

His other platform called on others to get involved in the tight-knit community, echoing a phrase coined by John F. Kennedy in his posts.

“The politicians were our leaders and people who inspired us saying, ‘Don’t ask what you can do that your country can do for you, but what you can do for our country? And that was one of my biggest slogans, not “Why do you like Parowan?” “, But” How do you like Parowan? “”

Eager to take on her new role, Halterman is excited about Parowan’s future. She could have waited until the next election for her name to be on the ballot, but she firmly believed that the time had come to get involved. It paid off a lot.

“We are currently in a phase of tremendous growth and our next four years are critical,” says Halterman. “I had to think about waiting maybe four years. But I realized that the next four years were too critical to sit back and wait and see what was going to happen, I had to get involved.

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