Emerge Maine Alumnae cite training in expanding skills and confidence
PORTLAND, ME –
That’s the percentage of women serving in the State House in Maine.
Why aren’t more women serving in public office? One Maine non-profit believes it's because women, more so than men, need to be invited to run, and to feel confident that they have the skills they'll need before committing to a campaign. That’s where Emerge Maine steps in.
“We’re working really hard to increase the number of women running and winning campaigns,” according to Emerge Maine Director Katie Mae Simpson. “Each year, we select Maine women from all ages and backgrounds to complete the comprehensive training program designed to inspire, educate and prepare democratic women for public office.”
So you may notice something if you look at the list of people running for office around the state of Maine this year. Women are running, and they’re running to win. This year, 18 Emerge Maine alumnae are running for office, 15 of them for either the House or Senate. With 68 program alumnae, that means over one-quarter of Emerge graduates are running for office this year.
In Dover-Foxcroft, a determined 2008 Emerge alumnae is vying for a state Senate seat. Sue Mackey Andrews says of her race, “I know that I can run a strong and diligent campaign, based largely on what I learned through Emerge, what I know about my area and what I learned from [running in] 2008. I add to this the tremendous support of my Emerge sisters who cheer all of their sister candidates on, and who will come and do doors with candidates and work with them to win. I know that I can win this time, and I am looking forward to representing my area in the Maine Senate and to making a difference for people in rural Maine who, for so long, have been under-represented.”
This year’s Emerge class of 2010 graduated 17 women, with four already throwing their hats into the political ring.
Helen Hanson of China, a 2010 Emerge graduate running for the Maine House says, “Emerge has given me the tools to run a successful campaign, as well as a great network of fellow women who are politically minded. I had made my mind up to run for the House of Representatives before I joined Emerge, and I'm grateful for the training I received.”
Hanson’s fellow 2010 graduate, Janice ‘Chizmar’ Comber of Lisbon, echoes Hanson’s sentiments. “The Emerge Maine curriculum provided me with the tools I need to run an organized and successful campaign. The network I have built since attending my first Emerge class continues to support me as I run for State Representative - District 104. I can reach out and ask questions to some extremely remarkable women, some of which I have made lasting friendships.”
Eighty-fourth in the world: that's where the United States ranks for women in elected office, behind Mexico, China and Pakistan. In fact, women make up just 17% of the U.S. Congress. This means that a pool of highly qualified Democratic candidates is being left untapped. Too often, women do not see themselves running for office - they don't think they are experienced enough or they just don't know where to start.
Emerge Maine is changing that – as is evident in the number of women running – and winning – their races. Prior to 2010, two-thirds of the Emerge graduates who ran for office, won their races.
“Emerge has been important to my experiences running in two ways,” says Denise Tepler of Topsham, a 2008 Emerge grad, and a candidate for state representative. “First, the knowledge that I gained in the classes gave me the know-how to run a good, competitive race; and secondly, the connections I’ve made with women around the state, both in my class and through the board, have given me a network I can go to with any campaign questions and simply for support as a woman candidate. Emerge’s state wide network of Democratic women is an incredible resource.”
Emerge Alumnae Candidates in 2010
- Roberta Beavers, South Berwick, Maine House
- Denise Tepler, Topsham, Maine House
- Jill Barkley, Portland, Maine House
- Mary Breen, South Berwick, Town Council
- Katherine Cassidy, Machias, Maine House
- Donna Dion, Biddeford, Governor
- Erin Herbig Povec, Belfast, Maine House
- Helen Hanson, China, Maine House
- Maeghan Maloney, Augusta, Maine House
- Lisa Villa, Harrison, Maine House
- Shelby Wright, Hampden, Maine House
- Susan Mackey Andrews, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine Senate
- Barbara DiBiase, Falmouth, Town Council
- Anne Graham, North Yarmouth, Maine House
- Cindy Bullens, Cumberland, Maine Senate
- Janice Comber, Lisbon Falls, Maine House
- Jeanne Guisinger, Perry, Maine House
- Diane Russell, Portland, Maine House