Rep. Carol Spackman Moss makes history as Utah’s longest serving female legislator
SALT LAKE CITY — Carol Spackman Moss learned about winning over her constituency, long before she was elected as a democrat legislator in Salt Lake County’s District 34.
She taught English classes at Olympus High School for 33 years and learned if you can get along with teenagers, you can get along with almost anyone.
“It gets a laugh, but it’s true,” said Spackman Moss. “The skills I’ve learned, it’s about communication. Politics is about two things, relationships and results.”
She’s taken those communication skills and uses them to help the residents in her district, which covers parts of Holladay, Millcreek, Murray and Taylorsville. She prides herself on constituent services. For example, when she learned some recent refugees couldn’t get a driver license, Spackman Moss called her DMV contact.
“So, I can make those connections for them,” she said. “That means more to me than passing a lot of laws.”
Her legacy of legislation demonstrates her ability to work with other lawmakers, even those in the majority party.
“I’m in the minority, so you have to work hard, harder, I’d say, than if you’re in the majority. But I learned quickly that you have to reach out.”
As a result, she has been able to pass laws that make a difference. She lists her top legislation as the laws that get the drug naloxone into the hands of police, and eventually, all Utahns, without a prescription, in order to reverse a drug overdose.
“I feel like that’s saved thousands of lives now that they’ve distributed it all over the state,” she said.
She’s worked to pass other laws and budgets that help education and have driven Utah through a time of economic prosperity. But not all the changes in her tenure have been so encouraging.
“What’s changed? What’s changed is we don’t have a lot more women,” she said. “I came in with 22 Democrats and now there are 14. So clearly, it’s harder.”
She also laments what she sees as a growing political divide.
“I’ve seen over time, especially this session, that it’s become much more partisan, hyper-partisan,” Spackman Moss said.
Earlier in the legislative session, colleagues honored her for her record 23 years. She never set out to be the longest-serving woman in the Utah Legislature. In fact, she wouldn’t have even known, except the chief clerk informed of the possibility, if she won re-election.
“It just happened, I never set out to set a record. All of a sudden one day they said, ‘Hey by the way,'” she said. “I had no idea.”
That unassuming quality is one that endears her to many constituents and colleagues. She’s less concerned with accolades than simply serving Utahns, whether in the classroom or the House of Representatives.
But if there is a perk to her current job, she says, it’s the ability to extend her service without grading papers.
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