Building the Bench


Recently, I had the honor of serving on a panel with two strong local leaders, Judge Melody J. Stewart and Euclid Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail. We spoke with college women at the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women at CWRU as part of a training day by “Running Start” to inspire young women to run for office.

On average, just under 1 in 4 elected officials are women.  (If you like the details, check out these current stats at differing levels of government.) According to Running Start, the two biggest deterrents to running for office are perhaps not what you might guess. The first is fundraising and the second is lack of party support. I thought about the fundraising piece in particular as Judge Stewart described gearing up for her state-wide run for Ohio Supreme Court Justice this fall.

We had a lot of agreement on our panel about how to prepare to run for office. Each of us spoke about finding your voice/passion/interests and getting involved first to gain experience. In addition, each of us mentioned something about being encouraged to run along the way.  That piece really stayed with me – how much you have the ability to influence someone you probably already know would be a great candidate – make sure you tell them!

Thank you to the Center for Women for inviting me to participate.  I was inspired by my fellow panelists and by the level of engagement and interest from students.

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