Organization works to get more women involved with local politics

Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 8:44 PM EST
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ST. ALBANS, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont advocacy group is trying to get more women to get involved with local politics.

“They’ll come away with some confidence that they know how the process works, and that they can do it,” said Elaine Haney, the Executive Director of Emerge Vermont.

Emerge Vermont is an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women who want to run for elected office. And today with their new campaign training session, they put the focus on local elections like select and school board.

“We have not done a training quite like this before. UVM did a study that says that about a third of Select Board members in our state are women. And that’s not enough,” said Haney.

The training covered everything you’d need to know to run an effective campaign for local office. From determining how many votes you need to win to tips on messaging and fundraising.

“It’s a great way to test the waters to find out what it entails, how much work it is whether you feel you can do it or not. And it demystifies the process. A lot of people just don’t know what it takes to run for office, and they want to know the nuts and bolts and that’s exactly what this is going to deliver,” said Haney.

Training organizers say that increasing the number of women running for local offices could lead to a shift in Vermont’s elected officials on a state and national scale.

“If you want to have more women in higher level positions in government, like the legislature or a statewide office, you need to have them come from somewhere and training grounds like the Select Board and the school board are a great place to start,” said Haney.

At the training, Women who had previously succeeded in running and winning their local elections also shared their experiences and advice. Liz Gamache was the mayor of St. Albans for 6 years; she says it’s imperative that women get involved in their communities.

“We still don’t have gender parity on boards in many parts of Vermont. So, I think it’s a really important gap that needs to be filled,” said Gamache.

And says that becoming a public servant for your community is a rewarding experience.

“You can see the fruits of your labors really unfold right before your very eyes in your community. If you run for select board or city council, you’ll be representing your friends and your neighbors. And, you know, it’s really an honor and a privilege to be able to do that,” said Gamache.

Organizers say their goal is to have those who attend training ready to throw their hat in the ring on Town meeting day which lands on March 7.