Friday, May 12, 2006

Miami-Dade County Elected Women Stuck at 21%

"Every OPEN SEAT A Woman's Seat" must take root on every level -- when political leaders, organizations, and PACs make every effort to recruit women candidates and propel them through a primary and into the general election. People like the idea alright, but we have yet to see any plans from our political parties, whose favorite excuse is "We cannot support candidates in primaries." You can if you want to!

Recently I was in a discussion with the Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party about just that, speaking to the fact that any progress for women comes in mini-steps if at all. We were wondering whether things were better or worse on the local level -- and it turns out that after three years, things are about the same.

In 2003, we ran down the numbers and names of elected women in each of the Florida's 67 counties, including my own Miami-Dade -- women elected to county or municipal offices (not including judges). At that time, there were 40 women elected to a possible 189 positions in 33 municipalities or 21.1 percent. Three years later there are 41 -- and if you add the two new towns of Cutler Bay and Doral, you get 43 women in a possible 199 slots (21.6 percent). This includes the election of a woman to the Miami City Commission earlier this year, the first in more than a dozen years. Overall women hold 11.5% of the mayorships, as compared with the 16% national average...

Women have stood their ground on the County Commission (6 of 12 slots) and on the school board (4 of 9 slots), the same as in 2003...this largely because two women retiring from the commision made it their business to make sure women succeeded them.

Women are forever running hard just to stay in place. The names and faces may change, and but the prohibitive circumstances do not. In fact, when women run in a general election, they make great candidates and often win -- but in the political system we live in it's just VERY hard to get there, and it's usually two steps forward and two (and sometimes three!) steps back.

And those are simply the facts of the matter.


At 10:01 PM, Blogger Millie Herrera said...

Alright, let's change that! Today I filed to run for Miami-Dade County Commissioner in District 10, against incumbent Javier Souto.

At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Paula. But let's institutionalize the idea of Gender Balance.
Encourage longtime national women's organizations with broad memberships to stare PACs. Business and Professional Women (BPW) did it. Why not AAUW?
Recruiting is KEY. More women running. More win. In Missouri we're organizing a network of women who will work in their local areas, learning what offices are available and recruiting women for them. Recruiting is TOUGH work. But it's tough for everyone else too. Frequently candidates who just pop up aren't the ones who should be supported.
Women should concentrate their elective efforts on their State Legislatures. This is where MANY elected officials got into the pipeline to higher office. Women should focus here.
Once a good woman candidate is found women should work in coalitions to elect her. Onward, Rosemary


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