Despite howling wind and freezing cold, the heat was on during our special event, Electing More Women, held in partnership with VoteRunLead on February 24. The audience braved blizzard predictions to gather for the dynamic program that included inspiring messages from Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, VoteRunLead founder and CEO Erin Vilardi and Minnesota State Senator Patricia Torres Ray, among others.
Lt. Governor Flanagan spoke with pride about being “one of those people” that others derided because her family struggled with poverty during her childhood. Making a difference and being a role model for “those people” – including little girls who never dreamed they could grow up to help lead our state – is just one of the many reasons Lt. Gov. Flanagan cited for urging women to run for office or to help other women who wish to do so. She also reminded guests that Ranked Choice Voting is an essential tool for leveling the playing field for women and other underrepresented people to run and win elections at all levels of government.
Erin Vilardi provided an overview of how VoteRunLead prepares women to run for elected office “just as they are.”
Guests also heard diverse perspectives about what it means serve in civic leadership roles as a woman, typically within government bodies heavily dominated by men. This panel discussion included MN State Rep. Aisha Gomez, Hennepin County Commissioner Irene Fernando, Minneapolis City Councilmember Linea Palmisano and FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey. FairVote Minnesota board member Gail Dorfman provided some parting thoughts and urged guests to give generously to support the urgent work of both FairVote Minnesota and VoteRunLead.
What did we learn?
More women than ever before are holding elective office, but many more are needed to be on par with men. Ranked Choice Voting makes it easier for women, especially women without large financial war chests, to run and win. Electing More Women was held at the Cowles Center in Minneapolis, across from the iconic outdoor mural of Bob Dylan and his famous lyric, “The times, they are a’changin.” We could not agree more, particularly with your continued efforts to push for the adoption of the RCV Local Options bill in the current legislative session!
Peggy Flanagan: “If we stop now we will have failed. There needs to be a lot more people like us showing up at the Capitol. Ranked Choice Voting allows for a more diverse group of people to run.”
Erin Vilardi: “If we really want women in office, we've got to accelerate the process, it’s three-fold:
- Training women for office
- Changing culture - Women seeing themselves in office
- Structural reforms - We liked Ranked Choice Voting before it was cool!”
Linea Palmisano: “I wouldn't have ever gotten into my race without Ranked Choice Voting. Because how would you dare ever get into a race with an opponent you see as a friend? But with Ranked Choice Voting, you can do that."
Aisha Gomez: “Seeing women in office creates space in your mind for what is in the realm of possible.”