Written by Paige McAtee Saturday, 22 February 2014 00:00
The Major Women in Politics event was held Feb. 12, at the “Yes We Can” Community Center in Westbury. The event sought to help get women excited about running for office and provide them guidance on the political process.
In attendance were female politicians: Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, and Assemblywomen Michelle Schimel and Michaelle Solages. Each woman shared the story of how she got involved in running for her political position.
“One of the things that helps women engage in the political process is actually sharing the experiences and hearing more about what the process is like from those who have done it,” said Heather Kashnar, event moderator and Political Opportunities Program Director of EMILY’s List.
“If you’re thinking about running for office, don’t haggle over it too much,” said Rice. “Women just need to get involved.”
“Until women are 50 percent of Congress and 50 percent of the Senate, and 50 percent of CEO’s and 50 percent of deans of law schools and other universities, we are not going to be fully equal,” said Rice.
Each speaker explained how she first considered being a candidate, how she became inspired to run for office and how she moved from activist to candidate.
“I love helping other people and inspiring other people,” said Solages. “Even though my fear sometimes gets in my way, I still run right through it because we have important work to do as women. You will get over your fears.”
“Once you’re talking to people and they see in your heart of heart that you believe in what you say, they will vote for you,” said Solages.
Schimel was an activist before she became an assemblywoman. She said she had never thought to run for State Assembly until North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Lee Seeman approached her.
“Don’t be afraid,” said Shimel. “Lean into the fear. You have to be willing to trust others or else you will go nowhere.”
Rice explained that there are so many organizations out there to help support women. Some of organizations that are available to women interested in politics were hosts of the night’s event, including Working Families Party and EMILY’s List.
Statistics of the political involvement of women in New York State put the need for women in politics into perspective. New York is 32nd in the nation for the amount of women represented in politics, according to Eleanor’s Legacy Executive Director Brette McSweeney.
“There are 63 members of the New York Senate, and only 11 of them are women,” said McSweeney. “It’s time for us to agitate, and to run, and to elect women.”