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Getting women involved in local political process
By Geoff Belcher
Aug 11, 2017, 17:28

Several local residents will represent Hancock County-area women at the "Ready to Run Mississippi" conference on Aug. 19 in Jackson.
According to event host the Stennis Center, "Ready to Run® is a non-partisan campaign training program to encourage women to run for elective office, position themselves for appointive office, work on a campaign, or get involved in public life in other ways.
The event is co-sponsored by the Mississippi Democratic Party and the Mississippi Republican Party.
"At our monthly Hancock Democrats meeting, we discussed the current dearth of female representation in local government," Hancock Democratic Executive Committee Bruce Northridge said. "As you're well aware, the County Board is all-male, the Waveland elected officials are all-male … and now the Bay's mayor/council are all-male."
The only female elected officials in the county currently are in Diamondhead – Ward 1 Councilwoman Nancy Depreo and Ward 3 Councilwoman Jamie Wetzel Morgan, both Republicans; and Constable Theresa Beeson.
"To me, that's so sad, that more women aren't putting themselves out there," Carol Strohmetz said Friday.
Strohmetz –fresh off her bid for the Bay St. Louis Ward 2 council seat – is one of the locals headed to the Ready to Run conference.
"I think we ran a good race, a credible race -- I came within three votes, it was very close. We've decided to start an organization. I think we're going to call it the Women's Progressive Forum of Bay St. Louis.
“Using the process I went through of running for public office -- we want to identify a woman in every ward in Bay St. Louis who is willing and able to run for city council, and one for mayor.
"I think that if more women had that knowledge and support, they might be more amenable to running for public office. … We want to teach them how How to navigate those political waters so it doesn't seem so intimidating."
"No one is going to invite me women to the table," Mariann Kwiat, a member of the Hancock Democratic Executive Committee, said Friday. "I'm going to Jackson to learn how to walk in to our democracy and pull up a chair."
Northridge said the Hancock Democrats are encouraging all women – Democrats and Republicans alike – to get involved in local politics, and to attend the Ready to Run conference.
Coincidentally, Northridge said, the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (in 1920) – which granted American Women the right to vote – is Aug. 26.
"Mississippi is the only state in the United States to never send a woman to Congress and never elect a woman governor," according to the Stennis Center. "The goal of this program is to inspire women to consider becoming more involved as political advocates in their community and to run for elective office by equipping them with knowledge and expertise specific to barriers women face in politics."
Ready to Run® Mississippi is scheduled Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Hilton Jackson hotel on County Line Road in Jackson. Registration is now open. Pre-registration is preferred; but same-day registration will be accepted.
For more information about Ready to Run® Mississippi, please contact Jenn Gregory at jenn@stennis.gov or (662) 325-8409.


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