You got that text too from the Rural Utah Project about running for office?

PARK CITY, Utah.— Tonight will mark the historic first time that two women will sit behind a president of the United States of America during the State of the Union address. If the Rural Utah Project (RUP) has anything to say about it, it won’t be the last. 

RUP sent out texts last week to a lot of Parkites. Here’s the story behind those texts, as told by executive director TJ Ellerbeck.

The Rural Utah Project was founded in 2017 and really got to work in their field programs in 2018. They like to say that they’re a small organization doing big work, and they’ve been able to accomplish more than they dreamed in the years since they’ve been established. For those who are unfamiliar with their work, the Rural Utah Project is working to shift the status quo of politics in rural spaces through voter registration, voter mobilization, narrative shifting, and deep organizing. They’ve run programs that include anything from addressing voters on the Navajo Nation to civic engagement training in rural towns like Park City.
 Ellerbeck said, “To run for office, especially when current office-holders don’t reflect you or your community, takes a lot of bravery and a lot of heart.”

RUP is in the business of supporting first-time and rural candidates, and they’re always finding new ways to put running for office on someone’s radar. 

Part of their work is dedicated solely to utilizing new tools and tactics to better engage with rural voters, and this includes tools that campaigns have long left behind. Without reliable access to broadband in some areas, they reach voters by radio, with pen and paper, and good old-fashioned door-to-door advocacy.
They are eager to work with Utahns who acknowledge that the politics of their communities goes far beyond the voting booth. To truly build rural resilience, they engage with candidates and residents who are passionate about the issues that they see as the future of the shared landscapes. This includes Indigenous self-determination, mitigating the impacts of industrial tourism, promoting land stewardship, increasing access to emergency services, affordable housing, water conservation, and many more.
“We’re in this work for the long haul, and we think you’ll find us organizing within rural Utah for decades to come. In our book, there is no such thing as an off year. We’re mobilizing voters around civic engagement opportunities regardless of who is on the ballot. In 2021, we’re diving deeply into Utah’s redistricting process as well as our addressing program, both of which will impact organizing in our counties over the next decade,” said Ellerbeck.
At the beginning of 2021, the Rural Utah Project embarked on an ambitious strategic planning process regarding their numeric goals over the next two, five, and 10 years across the regions where they organize. Every year that RUP has been in rural Utah, they’ve continued to see historic turnout in the places they organize and are determined to see this trend continue. Their goals are measured in the number of voters contacted, the number of meaningful conversations held, and the number of voters who are able to access their fundamental right for the first or hundredth time.  
More information can be found at
The faces that make up the Rural Utah Project. Photo: Rural Utah Project.
If Utahns can’t come to a voter registration location, volunteers of the Rural Utah Project will come to Utahns.
Just some of the people involved in the work of the Rural Utah Project. Photo: Rural Utah Project

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