Nonpartisan group hopes more women enter local politics

Nonpartisan group hopes more women enter local politics

2015 municipal elections offer opportunities for women candidates –

“To represent the whole community, we need the perspectives and  leadership styles of women.”  Carol Thompson Nine in ’15 Organizer

“To represent the whole community, we need the perspectives and
leadership styles of women.”
Carol Thompson
Nine in ’15 Organizer

A growing grassroots initiative, Nine in ’15, encourages qualified women to run for City Council seats, public policy boards and commissions and other offices in the 2015
municipal elections in Jacksonville. Scheduled for next March and May, voters will elect the Mayor, City Council members and constitutional officers to serve the city.
Nine in ‘15’s primary goal is to raise awareness of the unique contributions women make to political discourse and action. Nine in ’15 also strives to address the under representation of women in elected and appointed positions.

• Plans take shape

Conceptualized during a shrimp dinner among friends, the organization now has educational materials, a logo, a mailing list and a chance to change the political landscape in Jacksonville, according to one of the group’s organizers, Pam Paul. Paul spoke to a group of mostly women at a Nine in ’15 meeting held Thursday, March 13 at WJCT studios.
Nine in 15’s volunteer leader, Carol Thompson, also spoke at the March 13 meeting. In opening remarks, Thompson emphasized women make up half the population and half of the voters in Duval County. “To represent the whole community, we need the perspectives and leadership styles of women,” she said.

• Targeting nine City Council seats

Focusing on nine City Council seats open in 2015 because of term limits, Nine in ’15 exists to help women gain the confidence and harness the resources to navigate local political waters.

Eight candidates have filed to run for City Council through the Supervisor of Elections Office. Seven are women. “By no means do we support only women,” she added. “We support qualified candidates, talented candidates to represent the diversity of our community.” Audrey Moran, Senior Vice President for Social Responsibility and Community Advocacy at Baptist Health, ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Jacksonville in 2011. She backs the goals of Nine in ’15.

“To support good candidates to run for office, we need to recruit great candidates with brains and abilities to be a real source of change,” Moran said. “We need to encourage people and put together resources [for them].”

Moran believes more women on City Council would yield more serious debate and consensus building on important issues. In 2000, over half the City Council seats were filled by women, Moran said. “The City was booming,” she added.

• Overcoming perceptions

Dr. Matthew Corrigan, Chair, Political Science and Public Affairs at the University of North Florida, attended the meeting. He said women make good leaders, but they are often reluctant to run for political office for various reasons.

Women are much less likely than men to consider themselves qualified to run for office, Corrigan pointed out. He cited a study published by American University’s Women and Politics Institute.

Female potential candidates are less competitive, less confident and more risk averse than their male counterparts. Women also react more negatively than men to many aspects of modern campaigns (“Men Rule: The Continued Under-Representation of Women in U.S. Politics,” Jennifer J. Lawless and Richard L. Fox).
Corrigan agrees. Women need to be encouraged, supported and funded during and after campaigns.

Nine in ’15 is actually providing the encouragement, support and identification of resources, but at this time, it does not endorse or fund candidates.

To share your thoughts on Nine in ‘15, write to [email protected]

By Nancy Lee Bethea
Resident Community News

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