GRANTSVILLE, Utah – Jewel Allen made the switch from political activist to politician last week.
In a six-person race for three city council seats in Grantsville, Utah, Allen received the third-most support with 20 percent of the ballot. It was just enough to edge the fourth-place candidate and make her the first Filipino to win a city council position in state history.
“I worked really hard to campaign, to get my message out there to people, and I was just really excited that my message resonated with people,” she said.
Like Allen, many members of Utah’s Filipino community are exited about the historic achievement.
“She paved a way for others who aspire to become a city council member or senator in the state of Utah,” Filipino community leader Eunice Jones said. “This is a great beginning for us as Filipinos.”
Although this is Allen’s first step into public office, she’s no stranger to local politics. Last year, she co-founded a group that helped keep a new state prison out of her community.
Allen believes her work as a political activist helped her win the recent election.
“As I was out there organizing rallies, speaking at rallies, getting the word out through email and Facebook, I’m sure people recognized my name,” she said.
Now that she’s a city council member, Allen wants to revitalize the town’s financial district by organizing a city public relations campaign aimed at attracting new businesses.
“Growth is a big issue here in Grantsville, and my platform was for smart growth, being proactive, trying to get the businesses that we do want here,” she said. “If we don’t want a prison, then what do we want and how do we get it?”
The mother of three also wants to preserve Grantsville’s historic landmarks and keep citizens informed about issues that affect their families.
“I really plan to work super hard and keep listening to what people have to say and be accessible,” she said. “That’s very important to me.”
Since emigrating from the Philippines at the age of 15, Allen has graduated from Utah State University and worked as a journalist for the Tooelle Transcript Bulletin and an author of young-adult fiction.
She will officially begin her four-year term when she’s sworn into office in January.