July 28, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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Women’s History Month

Patrick Armstrong
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April 5, 2017

Women have long held an important role as leaders in the Democratic Party, influencing and shaping policy. We honor the contributions women have made in the past, and we look to a new generation of women to lead us forward.

We are inspired by past power brokers, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, whose influence during her husband's administration paved the way for women to speak up and be heard throughout all levels of government. We made history in 1984 when we selected Geraldine Ferraro as the first female vice presidential nominee. We nominated the first female secretary of state, Madeline Albright, and started a trend. Three of the last six secretaries have been women. We elected the first female speaker of the House of Representatives. Democratic women have played a significant role in our party, much more so than in any other political party.

Today, 21 women serve in the U.S. Senate: 16 Democrats and five Republicans. There are 104 women serving in the House of Representatives. Maryland has 13 female state senators and 52 female delegates in the state legislature. Currently, no women serve at the county level. Democrats plan to change that, with as many as five women poised to run for the county council and county executive in 2018. Anne Arundel Democrats are pursuing a future led by women.

Maryland's own Barbara Mikulski was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1987 and became the longest-serving female senator in history. Democrats first elected a woman to the Senate in 1931, and we haven't stopped since, electing numerous women from across the nation to both houses of Congress. While women have made great gains in elected offices and in other influential roles, there is much more to be done to balance the number of women and men in leadership.

As we look back on 2016 and the history-making campaign of Hillary Clinton, we are reminded that women must continue to push forward, fighting for equal representation at all levels of government. Hillary was the first female presidential nominee from a major party. She won 3.5 million more votes than her opponent, the second-most votes of any candidate in history, behind only Barack Obama in 2008. Hillary won Anne Arundel County and inspired women and girls across the nation to run for office and engage in public service.

Democrats support women of varied backgrounds, positions and beliefs. We support our Democratic women, but we also acknowledge and learn from women from all walks of life. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a Republican, was a devoted public servant. She was not afraid to speak her mind, as she did in 2015 when she supported Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snow are two more examples of women in leadership who have made tough choices, and in so doing have inspired others to fight for what they believe.

Here in our county, we are grateful to have Democratic leaders Pam Beidle, Barbara Frush and Joseline Pena-Melnyk working for us in elected office. The Anne Arundel County Democratic Party's Central Committee is led by Christine Davenport, and the Maryland Democratic Party is run by Kathleen Matthews. We honor past Democratic leaders in our community: Mary Ann Love, Kathy Shatt, Joan Cadden, Janet Owens, Judy Moylan-Forman, Lucy Travers and Ann Marie Remillard, to name just a few.

We will see to it that many more women are elected to office in our county. With great female candidates already lining up to run for office in 2018, you can be sure that the future belongs to women.

Patrick Armstrong is the secretary for the board of the 33rd Democratic Club and former candidate for the Anne Arundel County Council in 2014. For more information, visit www.33dems.org or email d33dems@gmail.com.


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