(Lori Piotrowski) – Don’t Get Mad – Get Elected. That was the theme for today’s initial meeting of The 2012 Project Nevada. Former Assemblywoman Valerie Weber opened the planning meeting today at the UNLV Student Union addressing nearly thirty men and women saying that the project seeks women eager to serve the public.
Leisa Moseley, founder and CEO of The Action Company, that focuses on mentoring female candidates, Erin Bilbray-Kohn, executive director and co-founder of Emerge Nevada, a candidate training program, also spoke to the attendees about the multitude of information available to women contemplating a run for public office.
The 2012 Project, bipartisan in nature, was started by Mary Hughes in California, and it is growing quickly as women throughout the United States recognize the power they have when they work together.
Hughes’ presentation provided some dismal statistics about women holding political office. Although women represent 51% of the population, only 17% hold Congressional seats. The number of female state office holders is slightly better: 6 governors and 11 lieutenant governors. State legislatures don’t fare much better in representation: 23.6%.
The redistricting issue, combined with a presidential election, has created the perfect election storm for women candidates, Hughes explained.
Revised boundaries create seats of opportunity as incumbents may choose not to run in a redrawn district. In addition, the presidential election year draws out the occasional voters who are more open to new candidates. These voters, she said, are more open to change and are more representative of the changes being experienced by the electorate.
Hughes also talked about the necessity for the United States to regain its moral high ground. “We are 70th in industrialized nations as far as having women represented in government.” In fact, the U.S. ranks behind Kazakhstan, Greece, Venezuela, and Turkmenistan.
The 2012 Project has a three-pronged approach to encouraging women to run for office:
1) Outreach to potential candidates who have not considered running
2) Education and public awareness of the opportunities presented by the 2012 election year
3) Mobilization of state-based coalitions to carry out the 2012 mission
For more information about The 2012 Project, visit their Web site here.