Americans voting tomorrow will find a record breaking number of women on the ballot, some of them in the position to make real history should they win election. Stacey Abrams of Georgia, who has the potential to be America’s first black female governor. Gina Ortiz Jones, a LGBTQ Iraq war veteran who could be our first Filipina in Congress. Paulette Jordan of Idaho, running to be America’s first Native American woman governor.
Here in Maine, we’re breaking records as well. I’m one of 137 women – the most ever -- running for the Legislature, and tomorrow we have the potential to elect our first female governor. Our state is solidly a part of a national trend toward more female political participation, a movement that seems long overdue when you consider a few statistics:
- The U.S. ranks 90th in the world for women in elected office, behind Mexico, China and Pakistan
- Women make up just 20% of the U.S. Congress
- Only six states currently have female Governors
-Only nine states currently have female Lieutenant Governors
The reasons women are stepping up in such numbers are as varied as we are. Women are half the U.S. population and half the workforce, and yet we still do not have equal pay. We’ve fought hard for progress on a number of fronts, and yet we see important rights being rolled back. Some of us feel called to serve our communities, and see public office as a way we can effect real change. For me, all of these reasons come in to play.
What has spurred me on these past nine months (yes --- it’s been quite the gestation period!) has been my conversations with all of you. The businessman who voiced his hopes that Maine can begin attracting jobs that can support our young people. The mother who told me she worries about classroom safety when her boys go off to school. The young man who wanted to talk about opiate addiction because his brother overdosed last year. The grandmother who ticked off the many changes in Midcoast Maine before saying it’s still the best place in the world to live. I haven’t had the chance to speak to every single one of you, but I’ve worked darn hard to try. Going forward I know that these are the conversations that really matter.
Maine has a strong tradition of electing women – think Margaret Chase Smith, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Chellie Pingree – and tomorrow we have the chance to strengthen that history.
See you at the polls!
Paid for and authorized by Vicki Doudera.