By Phlunte’ Riddle
Now I know why there are so fewer women than men in the state legislature. After months of campaigning for state senate, I recognize it takes resiliency, tenacity, commitment, and 200 percent effort to be taken seriously as a female candidate.
Running for elective office presents unique challenges for women who are raising families, pursuing careers, and/or advancing their education. It is not impossible, but it is very difficult. Fortunately, the opportunity to run for the office of senator in the 25th District comes at the right time in my life and career. You see, I have had a full career and my three sons are adults.
March was Women’s Month and on Aug. 26, 2015, we celebrated the 95th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote and hold elected office. In the past 95 years, there have been great opportunities to continue to educate and embrace the power of the vote and its phenomenal impact on our lives and the lives of our families. Women have played a critical role through their political voice and vote.
I appreciate and value casting my vote for candidates who have integrity and proven leadership through collaboration. Women have fought and shown amazing courage to have their voices heard.
As I study the history of elections to the California Legislature it is disheartening to see the dwindling number of capable women being elected. Of the current 120 California legislators serving, only 31 are women, with 13 of those being women of color. Nine of these women will term out in November 2016. This is in spite of women making up 50.3 percent of the state’s population.
With California’s diverse population and the increasing number of women obtaining higher education, excelling in the workplace, and breaking glass ceilings, it is perplexing that women are underrepresented.
Clearly, women’s voices and perspective make a difference, especially to strengthen our local schools and early education programs, create opportunities for good-paying careers, and fight for a more fair economy for our middle class.
I admire and am inspired by women who made the difficult decision to serve the public through public office, especially our own Senator Carol Liu, who became the first Asian Pacific Islander elected to the senate in 2008. When she terms out in 2016, Liu will leave a legacy of education, human services, public safety, and environmental policies that benefits all Californians.
I would not be the first African American woman elected to the legislature, but I do believe I would be the first woman public safety officer. With that comes another unique perspective that I can bring to discussions based on my experience in public safety, education, and community collaboration.
I seek to follow in the footsteps of the accomplished women who have gone before me.
– Phlunte’ Riddle, Pasadena resident and candidate for District 25 of the state senate.