WeLead OC - Celebrating Women's History Month!
Organized by: Karen Hinks
The number of women running for office at all levels of government has been on a steady decline over the last decade. And while the nation's attention is fully focused on the 2016 Presidential race, state and local races, especially local races, are taking a back seat to national politics. There is no question --- this year's Presidential race is critically important --- 2016 is an election year unlike any other in recent memory --- a tremendous amount is at stake. But so too, are the down-ticket races. More than half of the State Legislatures and Governorships are held by Republicans, as are half of Attorney Generals and Secretaries of State. Republicans also control both Houses of Congress. California has long been identified as a Blue State --- Orange County --- not so much. Voter registration data points to a County with significant demographic changes over the last ten years, but the make-up of our city councils and school boards paints a different picture. Orange County is home to 34 cities comprised of 34 city councils and 26 school boards. Republicans hold the majority in almost half of the city councils and more than one third of the School Boards. For women --- of the 176 city council seats, women overall represent only 45 --- Democratic women hold only 1/3rd. Of the 138 school board seats, women represent 74 while Democratic women hold about 1/4th. More than half of registered voters in this County are women, yet zero women --- either Republican or Democrat ---hold seats on six city councils. It all starts here. It is a fact that building an infrastructure by winning local races builds a solid pipeline. WELead OC (“WE” is an acronym for “Women Empowered”) is a political non-profit dedicated to engaging, educating and empowering Orange County Democratic Women, through political training programs, speaker and leadership events, building a pipeline of Progressive Democratic women to run for elected office, ultimately increasing the number of elected Democratic women in the County. WELead OC will provide a series of six-week training programs in 2016 to fully develop the pipeline and increase the number of Orange County Democratic women in elected offices, with a focus on Women of Color and women in underserved Orange County communities. WELead OC completed its first training program for 2015, graduating 4 women ---3 are Women of Color. All 4 will be running for City Council and School Board seats. WELead OC will target seats among 85 City Council and 67 School Board and Water Board seats up for 2016. WELead OC understands the value of women supporting women and to that end will provide its supported candidates, who successfully complete its 6-week Political Training Program, with the resources needed to ensure success such as structural support, phone banking, field/precinct/GOTV outreach. WELead OC is the only program of its kind in Orange County, California providing comprehensive support to its supported women candidates --- we can use all the help we can get as we build a Progressive, Democratic Women's pipeline in Orange County!