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Women Rise To Run For Office



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On May 22, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, announced a new initiative to "train and encourage" high school and college-aged young women to find a place in the political arena. "Rise To Run" brings together female leaders from myriad perspectives, on and offline, to prepare a generation of young women to take on powerful political roles in this country.

Information provided by Rise To Run notes that, according to the Center for Women and American Politics, only 19 percent of high school and college women currently show an interest in running for office. The new organization hopes to increase that number through in-person training and on-the-ground networking, through providing mentors, and encouraging young women to act on their beliefs. Women who are current or former office holders will offer experience and inspiration to these female politician-wannabes.

Initial launch programs are set for Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and California, with plans to expand the pilot programs to all 50 states by 2020.

It is an ambitious program for building future female leaders.

Newtown's young women, though, need not wait til 2020, nor do they need to look any further than the local offices for inspiration.

First and foremost is First Selectman Pat Llodra, who has held Newtown's highest office since 2009, leading the community through the recovery from devastating storms and unparalleled tragedy, as well as the repercussions of those events - all the while continuing to guide day-to-day operations of running a town. Her dedication to her office sets a standard to which any young woman can aspire.

Of the 39 boards and commissions listed on the town website, 15 of them are headed by women. Among them are leaders such as Director of Health Donna Culbert; Legislative Council Chair Maryann Jacob; Cultural Arts Commission Chair Laura Lerman; Board of Ethics Chair Jacqueline Villa; Kathleen Quinn, chair of the Sustainable Energy Commission; and Ellen Whalen, chair of the Pension Committee. Parks & Recreations boasts women at the helm: Director Amy Mangold and Assistant Director of Recreation RoseAnn Reggiano.

Local groups like Newtown Forward and Newtown Action Alliance inspire young people, many women, to speak out on national issues that affect them now and that will continue to affect their lives.

Inspiration abounds already, right here and right now, at the local level.

Rise To Run has the potential to grow that female power in every city, in every state. If all this initiative was to do was increase the number of young women who become educated voters and supporters of candidates moving issues of importance forward, it would be a huge boon to society. If it can grow the number of women who choose to become leaders, so much the better.

A greater balance of power between men and women is beneficial to all. We urge our young women to Rise To Run. Newtown is proof that power in the hands of the right person, be it man or woman, is the key to success.

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