Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, 12:26 a.m.
When Butler County voters elected two female Republicans as county commissioners Tuesday, they made history.
Leslie Osche and Kim Geyer will be the first female majority ever on the three-member board, said Shari Brewer, director of Butler County’s election bureau.
The win is a shining moment for women, who remain a minority in public office in Pennsylvania.
“That is exciting,” said Annette Shimer, president of the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh.
“A lot of this starts at the local level, and we have to get (women) in as commissioners, school board members and municipal government,” she said.
“It’s a great achievement,” said Megan Sweeney, communications director of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.
“We’re very excited to have a Republican majority,” she said. “We’ve been making an effort to grow and reach out to the women of Pennsylvania to consider running at the state, county and local levels.”
Women have a dismal history of being elected in Pennsylvania.
Up until Tuesday, 38 out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties did not have women on a county board of commissioners, council or as a county executive, according to Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.
She noted that there has never been a female U.S. senator from the state.
In the state House, about 18 percent of the members are women. That’s slightly less than the 20 percent of women serving at the federal level in Congress.
“Research indicates when women do run, they win at the same rates of men,” Brown said. “We don’t see the gender bias in the ballot booth.”