A small sampling of the political firepower on hand at the 2016 Ready to Run campaign-training program at Mount Saint Mary's: Jackie Filla, PhD, associate professor of history and political science; Holly J. Mitchell, state senator; Connie Leyva, state senator; Lorena Gonzalez, California assembly member; Ling Ling Chang, California assembly member; Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount Saint Mary's University.
Mount Saint Mary’s University organizes ‘Ready to Run’ campaign training to prepare more women to seek elective office
LOS ANGELES, April 11, 2016 — Even as the 2016 presidential election offers a potentially historic milestone for women, California government at nearly all levels remains one of the most gender unbalanced systems in the country. On April 9, Mount Saint Mary’s hosted a nonpartisan Ready to Run® campaign-training program specifically for women, aiming to help correct that imbalance.
The intensive program, held on the University’s Doheny Campus in downtown Los Angeles, was designed to encourage women to run for elective office and help prepare and position them for appointive office, to work on campaigns or otherwise become active in public life.
California has the fewest number of women serving in the state legislature since 1998 and ranks 20th nationally in terms of women’s state legislative representation. A key factor driving that imbalance: In 2014, three times more men than women ran for office in state primary and general state legislature elections. When fewer women run for office, fewer women win public office.
“As women, we have a special responsibility to make sure that we are opening doors and making room for other women at the table, so that we can bring our unique lens to policymaking and to public service,” said Ana Guerrero, chief of staff for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Ready to Run featured more than 15 speakers, including elected officials from across California, as well as political strategists and campaign veterans. The event attracted more than 150 political aspirants, including women who will soon be seeking elective office as well as college students still laying the groundwork for a path to public service.
“Every woman has leadership capacity and has issues that she’s passionate about,” said California State Senator Holly Mitchell, “and the benefit of an event like this is understanding the mechanics of getting elected and hearing practical advice from women who have done it successfully.”
As a women’s university, Mount Saint Mary’s places a priority on advocating for women and girls, and is nationally known for its research related to gender equity, including its annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California. In the 2016 edition of the report, the university noted that women currently make up only:
24% of the California State Assembly
30% of the California State Senate
25% of California's eight elected statewide positions
25% of county supervisors statewide
29% of city council members statewide
“Women remain significantly underrepresented at nearly every level of government in the state, yet California women legislators have taken the lead in passing laws, such as California’s Fair Pay Act, that directly benefit women and their families,” said Mount Saint Mary’s President Ann McElaney-Johnson. “Imagine what we could achieve if we balanced the political scales across the state.”
At Ready to Run, many elected women government representatives were among the speakers who shared their experiences, insights and advice about public service and the political campaign process, including:
California State Senators Connie Leyva and Holly Mitchell
California Assembly members Ling Ling Chang and Lorena Gonzalez
Appointments Secretary, Office of Gov. Brown, Mona Pasquil
Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez
Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Ana Guerrero
West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath
Panel discussions and break-out sessions offered practical tutorials on key facets of pursuing elected or appointed public office.
About Ready to Run
Ready to Run was created in 1998 by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Mount Saint Mary’s is the program’s exclusive Southern California partner and has hosted the training since 2012.
About Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world. msmu.edu