Meet the Philly women who want to make more women stars in politics

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on July 6th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Claudia Vargas, Staff Writer

In 2010, Kerri Kennedy was training women in Afghanistan to run for office when she noticed a stark statistic. That year, 28 percent of elected officials in Afghanistan were women, while in the United States, women held just 17 percent of such positions.

A friend told her that while the work Kennedy did was commendable, she could have a bigger impact helping women in her own country get elected.

“She said, ‘You’re not walking the talk,’ ” Kennedy recalled.

Six years later, Kennedy is one of more than a dozen Philadelphia women who run Represent!, a political action committee focused on electing Democratic women to state and federal office. The committee’s federal arm has raised $94,000 and given $175,000 to campaigns since last year. The state arm has raised $50,400 this election cycle and $89,000 since it became active in 2014.

At a time when millions are flowing to political campaigns, the dollars raised and donated by Represent! seem modest. But the group is hoping to gain momentum as the Democratic National Convention, July 25 to 28, nears and Hillary Clinton is poised to make history as the first female presidential candidate of a major U.S. party.

“It’s the right time for an organization like ours,” said Kennedy, 41, who in her day job is an executive for a nonprofit. (She is not related to those Kennedys.)

In late June, Represent! achieved “multicandidate” PAC status at the federal level, which means the group has supported at least five federal candidates and has more than 50 individual donors. That status allows a PAC to receive up to $5,000 from an individual a year, nearly double the usual $2,700 limit for individual donors.

“We are able to give a lot more money to the campaigns,” said Aubrey Montgomery, 32, one of the cofounders.

The women behind Represent! are trying to distinguish themselves from other female-focused PACs, such as EMILY’S List, the national group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights, and one that many women, including Represent! board members, have supported over the years.

On the Republican side, too, a PAC called Women Lead is trying to elect women, and the Anne B. Anstine Series, based in Pennsylvania and named for the woman who once led the state GOP, is a workshop that helps train women going into politics. Both groups were founded by Christine J. Toretti, a Republican National Committee member.



MPR News with Kerri Miller: Women in Politics

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 16th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Listen to Dr. Dana Brown, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics on Minnesota Public Radio.

Women’s Rising Influence in Politics, Tinted Green

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 10th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment


Politics as Usual: Toomey, Dent ‘not likely’ to attend GOP covention

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 9th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment
Of the Morning Call

With Donald Trump the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, two top local Republicans now say they are unlikely to attend their party’s national convention in July.

Lehigh Valley congressman Charlie Dent, who had endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich, says he had been planning to go if the nomination hadn’t been sewn up.

“Now that it’s a settled matter, it’s not likely that I’ll be attending the Republican convention,” said Dent, who attended four years ago.

As for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, he’s also likely to be absent. Toomey was at the 2012 convention and had told CNN before the primary that he “probably” would go to Cleveland.

“Sen. Toomey will have a busy campaign schedule in Pennsylvania in the summer, so it’s not likely he will attend the convention, but he has not ruled it out, and will make a scheduling judgment much later in the summer,” Toomey spokesman Ted Kwong said in a statement.

Toomey had endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out in March, and said he voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who ended his bid last week. He has not said whether he is backing Trump, describing the New York billionaire as not among his top choices, but emphasizing his opposition to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

— Laura Olson

Five women vying to represent Pa. in Congress

Democrat Katie McGinty is the third woman to nab a major-party nomination for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, according to Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics.

The two others? You have to reach back several decades, and neither was victorious. The first came in 1964, when Democrat Genevieve Blatt challenged Republican Sen. Hugh Scott.

In 1992, Democrat Lynne Yeakel took on Republican Sen. Arlen Specter in what pundits later dubbed “the year of the woman,” when four female senators were elected.

“Women remain significantly underrepresented in Pennsylvania politics,” said Dana Brown, the center’s executive director, “which means women’s perspectives and experiences are not always a part of the decision-making process.”

McGinty won’t be the only woman vying to join Pennsylvania’s all-male congressional delegation when she takes on Republican Sen. Pat Toomey this fall. Four women — all Democrats — will be running for House seats in the 1st, 7th, 12th and 16th districts.

— Laura Olson

Read more at The Morning Call

McGinty win would make her state’s first female U.S. senator

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on May 9th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Emma Ginader  May 7, 2016

Democrat Katie McGinty is looking to beat Republican incumbent Pat Toomey and break a Pennsylvania gender barrier Nov. 8 by becoming the state’s first female U.S. senator.

If successful, she also may open more doors for more women in Pennsylvania politics.

“The political parties were made by men for men to elect men,” said Dr. Dana Brown, executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University, Pittsburgh. “Pennsylvania has a high rate of incumbency so it is a challenge for any newcomer.”

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, based at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Pennsylvania ranks 40th in the number of female representation in state and national politics.

The center states that only 18.2 percent of the members of Pennsylvania’s 2016 General Assembly are females.

Pennsylvania also has had trouble moving females to the national level of politics, Brown said. Only seven women from the commonwealth have served in the U.S. House since 1941.

There are “more established male candidates” who draw the attention of donors and there aren’t as many women donating to political campaigns, McGinty said.


Read more at The Daily Item

Down-ballot women hope to ride the Hillary Clinton train in today’s Acela Primary

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on April 26th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment


 April 26 at 8:41 AM

PHILADELPHIA — Arlen Specter came off as badly as any other senator — if not worse — during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

The way he pilloried Anita Hill from his perch of authority on the Senate Judiciary Committee helped lead to “the Year of the Woman” in 1992. California, Washington and Illinois elected female senators. In Pennsylvania, Lynn Yeakel — the daughter of a former congressman — was able to capture the Democratic nod in a primary. But she narrowly lost to Specter.

That was the last time either major party in Pennsylvania nominated a woman for Senate or governor. Today all 20 members of the commonwealth’s congressional delegation are men.

“All women candidates have different expectations placed upon them,” said Dana Brown, executive director of the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics. “One of the greatest challenges that women have running in Pennsylvania is the incumbency advantage. We have a long history of incumbents winning time and again.”

Read More at the Washington Post

Women make county history as they take oath of office

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 6th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

SUNBURY — Judge Paige Rosini and Commissioner Kymberley Best were sworn in Monday after being the first women elected to their positions in Northumberland County history.

Rosini is a former assistant public defender, and Best, a former county chief clerk.

Best is not the first woman to serve as commissioner, but the first to be elected. Eleanor Kuhns was appointed as commissioner in 1993 to replace the late Charles Lewis.

Rosini and Hugh Jones, the former district judge in Mount Carmel, won the Republican and Democratic nominations for the two vacant 10-year county judge positions in May, making their wins in the Nov. 3 general election basically a formality.

President Judge Charles Saylor, who was sworn into his leadership position Monday, said he was looking forward to working with Rosini and Jones and was proud to welcome Rosini as the first female judge in the county.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve,” Rosini said. “I pledge my time and talents toward the fair and impartial administration of justice.”

Rosini, the daughter of the late Northumberland County Judge and District Attorney James J. Rosini, said she will address each matter with a “fair hearing” and “prompt decisions.”

Jones, who has been the district judge in Mount Carmel since 2009, said he first walked into the courthouse in 1968 as a high school student and returned in 1976 as an employee, but he never realized he would be a county judge.

“It’s been a lifelong dream,” he said.


Rosini has been practicing law since 1995 where she began her legal career with her father. She earned a juris doctor degree from the Dickinson School of Law, Carlisle, and a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College.



Gender makeup of Allegheny County Council a concern for some

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 5th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Only three women took the oath of office this week as they set out on four-year terms on the Allegheny County Council.

The county’s 15-member, part-time legislative body has two fewer women than its last iteration: Republican Sam DeMarco, 57, of North Fayette, replaces Heather Heidelbaugh for one of council’s two at-large seats and Democrat Paul Klein, 61, of Point Breeze, is taking over the District 11 seat once held by the late Barbara Daly Danko.

“We’re a bit disappointed to see even fewer female faces and experiences on county council,” said Dana Brown, executive director of Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics at Chatham University. “We want to see more women running in those races.”

Getting women to put themselves on the ballot in the first place, however, is precisely the challenge, said Anne Wakabayashi, executive director of Emerge Pennsylvania, a chapter of a national organization that seeks to identify, encourage and train women to seek, and win, elected office.

“Once women make the decision to run for office, they win at the same rates that men do,” she said.

Out of the 69 county council candidates to appear on both parties’ primary ballots since 2007, only 20 have been women. (Those figures include repeat candidates.)

But a look at recent political history suggests that women fared well in those competitive races. Between 2007 and 2015, women have won six out of nine contests in which they faced a male competitor in either the primary or general elections. (That does not include races with minor-party candidates, or a District 11 special election this November, in which Terri Klein, who is not related to Paul Klein, beat two men to hold the seat for two months.)

In the May 2015 Democratic primary, Denise Ranalli Russell, 48, of Brighton Heights, defeated attorney Daniel Connolly for the District 13 council seat by fewer than 100 votes.

“At first, I was a little shy about it, a little bit leery. … I thought it was going to be an uphill battle,” she said, noting that her opponent had run for office before. She said she listened to the concerns expressed by her constituents. “After speaking with them, I thought, you know, maybe I can make a difference.”

She and Republican Cindy Kirk, 58, of McCandless, in District 2, took oaths at Monday’s regular council meeting. Sue Means, R-Bethel Park, and three existing council members who ran unopposed last year were sworn in at other times Monday or earlier.

Ms. Ranalli Russell replaces Amanda Green-Hawkins, who said having fewer women means less diverse perspective.

“I think this new body will require us as the constituents, particularly the women, to be more vocal, to meet more with our elected officials, to discuss things more, to lobby them more, so that we bring our voices to the table and make sure we’re heard,” Ms. Green-Hawkins said.

Women’s shared experiences have informed policy, Ms. Brown said, noting the recent creation of the City of Pittsburgh’s Office of Early Childhood, sponsored by City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and the three other members of city council’s women’s caucus. In 2014, that group also created a fund to help child care providers improve their facilities.

“That’s why I think us losing some of those voices — and people of color — is a real detriment,” Ms. Brown said.


Representation by women, blacks on Allegheny County Council to further shrink

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on January 5th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, 10:21 p.m.

Read more:
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

The sliver of Allegheny County Council seats held by women will shrink next year when new council members take office.

The 15-member council, dominated by white men, has five female members and will have two fewer in January.

“I’m concerned,” said Councilwoman Sue Means, R-Bethel Park, the only woman carrying over to the next council. “It’s sad that there’s not a better representation of women on the council. You definitely get a different perspective.”

Nearly 637,800 women live in the county, census data show, making up more than half the population.

Dana Brown, executive director of Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics, said the loss of two women on County Council could be detrimental to public policy. She noted that the four women holding seats on the nine-member Pittsburgh City Council pushed for a mother’s room at the City-County Building, Downtown, for nursing mothers.

“For government for the people by the people, you actually want a government that looks like its people,” Brown said.

Five new County Council members will take seats in January:

• Oakdale Republican Sam DeMarco will replace Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh, R-Mt. Lebanon, in an at-large seat;

• Paul Klein, a Point Breeze Democrat, will replace Councilwoman Terri Klein, D-Squirrel Hill, in District 11. The two are not related;

• Cindy Kirk, a McCandless Republican, will replace Councilwoman Jan Rea, also a McCandless Republican, in District 2;

• Denise Ranalli-Russell, a Brighton Heights Democrat, will replace Councilwoman Amanda Green-Hawkins, D-Stanton Heights, in District 13;

• DeWitt Walton, a Hill District Democrat, will replace Councilman Bill Robinson, also a Hill District Democrat, in District 10.

The number of black council members will drop from two to one.

Green-Hawkins and Robinson are council’s only black members. Walton is black; Ranalli-Russell is not.

“I think you have to have more black faces and more black voices at county council,” Robinson said.

Robinson was the only man on council to vote against the controversial decision to drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes Park. No women on council voted for it.

Read more:
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Butler County elects first majority of women to board of commissioners

Posted in In the News, Women in PA on November 5th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

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.”