Olene S. Walker, Utah's first ever female governor, has died at age 85. Walker had served for 11 years. In office, Walker focused her agenda on education and even created a institute to help students with public service career training( Olene S. Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service click this link to find out more) Although Walker was a Republican, she disagreed with fellow Republicans on many issues, including those relating to schools and education. For example, Walker vetoed a bill about vouchers for private schools because she was opposed to cutting spending for public schools. Walker also created a housing loan fund program for people with low incomes, something somewhat uncharacteristic of a republican.
Additionally, Walker created the Read with a Child Early Literacy Initiative which encouraged parents to read for 20 minutes a day with their children. Aside from education, Walker was also passionate about preserving the wildlife of Utah.
As the first woman to serve as a Utah governor, Walker was described with the quote "Wherever she went, she broke down barriers so future generations could follow her lead." Additionally, Walker was known for collaborating with other parties in office, rather than arguing with them. Someone even stated that "When the legislative process was breaking down on a bill, I often asked Olene to walk upstairs to the Legislature and see what she could do. Inevitably, when she came back, the problem was solved."
Although this story may have sounded somewhat like an obituary, I think there are definitely interesting things to take note of about Walker's career.
Do you think it is important for one to stick strongly to their party's ideals? Or is it ideal for politicians to take Walker's approach and not be afraid to differ in opinion with your party?
Why do you think it took Utah, and so many other states, so long to have a woman governor?
Do you think Walker's legacy will influence the politics in Utah for a long time?