By SHERRY APPLETON
Across Washington state, thousands of women, families of diverse communities, and members of the LGBTQ community took to the streets in a peaceful protest to stand up for equality, civil and women’s rights, and religious freedom.
It was an inspiring day, but one we can all agree must be followed by longer-term action.
With more than 50 percent of the Democratic House members female — one of only four women-dominated chambers in the country and the most diverse we have ever been — we have a request of you: run for public office.
Each of us has a different story about what finally pushed us into running. Fully funding our kids’ public education after decades of legislative delay. A road safety issue blocked by an all-male city council. Social justice and civil rights. A desire to bring business acumen to the table to solve complex economic issues. Protecting the environment for the next generations.
Research shows that before a woman will run for office, she must be asked seven times. Consider this 26 requests — one from each of us. We urge you to do this understanding the sacrifices it takes to run — family time, fundraising, publicity (good and bad), jobs on hold.
But we also understand the rewards: The policy positions you can help advance like equal pay and family leave. The basics you can protect like reproductive rights and access to quality health care for all. The look on young girls’ faces who see you as a leader in their community.
One of the things this recent march illustrated is the power of being there for each other. Friends will babysit your kids. Neighbors will walk your dog. People who see your commitment and feel your passion will donate to help you get your message out.
And we will be there too.
This year, there will be numerous opportunities to run for public office in your community: City council. School board. Fire or water commission. And more. The deadline to decide is May 19, but the earlier you get started, the better. We also have organizations that stand ready to help: National Women’s Political Caucus. Win with Women. Amplify.
Just as we encourage our children to take that first step — and the next — we say to you: You walked. Now run.
— State Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, represents the 23rd District in the state House of Representatives. This column was submitted by her and the 25 other Democratic women in the state House.