“Women in politics are fantastic,” said Judy Stahl, candidate for Legislative District 1 House of Representatives. “When we step into our power, support each other [and] amplify each other’s voices, we are unstoppable. We are excellent at governing when we come from a place of service.”
Hall’s powerful advocacy for statehood earned her an appointment as Territorial Historian in 1909. O’Connor was appointed the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally are now the first two women representing Arizona in the U.S. Senate. Karen Fann this year became the Arizona Senate’s second female president.
Lora Lee Nye has served multiple terms as vice-mayor for Prescott Valley. Recently re-elected Councilwoman Billie Orr, Ph.D., has been Prescott’s mayor pro tem since 2018. Councilwoman Alexa Scholl in 2017 became the youngest person elected to the Prescott City Council. Cathey Rusing’s summer primary win prompts this month’s runoff between incumbents.
“Listen to your heart,” Stahl urged, acknowledging the hard work. “You will know if this is your calling. If it is, trust yourself and go for it. No matter what happens, be your authentic self. Your community, your state, your country, your world needs you now.”
A record number of women were elected in 2018, said Jan Manolis, candidate for the 2020 Arizona State Senate, Legislative District 1. “This significant shift toward a fair balance in representation between women and men lawmakers particularly bodes well for improvements in policies affecting women and families. I am in awe of every woman who has stepped forward as a political candidate because I know from personal experience that a great deal of courage goes into such a decision.”
Coast-to-coast 568 women ran in the 2018 November general election and 327 won, according to Sharmin Dharas, M.D., executive director of Emerge Arizona, which prepares Democratic women for election.
“Being a woman in the last election was a major factor,” said Deb Dillon, elected to the Board of Governors of the Prescott Unified School District. “There was a push for women in office, no question about it. Across the board in the country, we saw a lot more women elected than in the past. There was a real movement in the election.”
Dillon ran her own campaign and only spent $5 beyond what contributors had donated, but said she first needed to understand how to manage the elections process. She participated in training for school board candidates offered by Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter. Saying it was “extraordinarily helpful,” Dillon said she is not certain she would have been able to effectively run and win without it.
Other entities offering women political assistance include Emily’s List, Ignite, the National Federation of Republican Women, the National Women’s Political Caucus, Running Start, She Should Run, Victory Institute and the Women’s Campaign Fund.
Manolis and Stahl are among Emerge Arizona’s 300 alumnae. Stahl characterized the program as “a great learning experience” preparing her well for her first run for public office. Topics include running a campaign, managing data, fundraising, public speaking and self-care. Both Stahl and Manolis emphasized relationships.
“It was a very uplifting session to meet many courageous and talented women,” Manolis said. “A majority of the attendees – my Emerge sisters – went on to run for offices across Arizona. The most important resource in my [2018 LD1] campaign was the team of dedicated and experienced leaders from the Yavapai County Democratic Party who supported and coached me.”
For Stahl, “best of all were my Emerge sisters, a diverse group of Arizona leaders. We spent joyful quality time together. Along with a few older white women like me, my Emerge sisters were Native American, Latina, Black, Asian, gay, transgender, young and very accomplished. Each participant had so much to offer.”
Orr said that women “do well in all arenas and do not necessarily operate differently in politics, but they often have several issues in the air at one time. We try to do it all. Men tend to be a little more focused on one issue at a time. Women also seem more open to change. A balance is needed in politics, and I thoroughly enjoy working with both men and women, young and old, from all walks of life.”
Dillon explained that women tend to be heavily involved in topics that impact people. “The majority of them care deeply about what they are doing. They do not always agree with me, but they care.”
Stahl, who became interested in politics as a pre-teen, said, “We need to model for young women that we respect the power of our voices and the importance of being heard. The possibilities for women in politics are unlimited.”
Statistics prove that female office-seekers win at the same rate as men, Dr. Dharas stated.
Manolis says she advises women who run for office, but don’t win, to run again. “She’s already climbed a steep learning curve and acquired a valuable education. Campaigning for political office is the ultimate civics lesson and a rich life experience that will serve her well in the years ahead. Especially for the first-time woman candidate, I would tell her to assemble the best campaign team she can.”
Women “are about ‘power with,’ not ‘power over,’” Stahl said. “We are more about solutions than we are about ego. My campaign motto is ‘it’s time.’ This is as true for me as an individual running for office as women in general. Strong women leaders are desperately needed.” QCBN
By Sue Marceau, QCBN