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House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig said Thursday that she will not seek re-election to the House at the end of the year, ending her eight-year tenure in the body.

Seelig, who represents District 23 in the Rose Park area, said she is leaving the Legislature to finish her doctoral dissertation, which she has been putting off for eight years and is her last step before receiving her Ph.D in political science.

"It's part of who I am," Seelig said in an interview. "The whole focus of the dissertation is political empowerment of women and how neighborhood-based organizations can help foster a political acumen among women and help give them confidence and the skill set to help them run for office."

"Part of the whole reason I ran and why I've taken responsibilities in leadership is to show people how you can affect your community," said Seelig.

Seelig, who planned to announce her decision to colleagues during their caucus Thursday afternoon, said she is making her plans known now so potential candidates can make arrangements to run for the seat. The deadline to file to run for office is March 20.

"I want people out in the community to make the decision if they want to run," she said.

Seelig was appointed in 2006 to fill a vacancy created by the departure of Rep. Duane Bourdeaux.

During her tenure in the House, Seelig, who is a lobbyist for 1-800 Contacts, focused heavily on women's issues and programs designed to help victims of domestic violence. This session, she is sponsoring bills aimed at expediting the processing of the backlog of rape kits, revising a bill she sponsored last year to crack down on human trafficking and creating a commission to explore and enhance women's role in the Utah economy.

Twitter: @RobertGehrke

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