By SHERI GASSAWAY
In the last legislative election, 70 state representatives ran unopposed, and the St. Louis chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), along with the St. Louis chapters of the National Women’s Political Caucus and the National Council for Jewish Women, are on a mission to change that by helping women run for office.
As part of the CLUW Women’s History Brunch last month, Pam Ross, a CLUW board member who recently won a seat on the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees, urged attendees to think about women who would make good candidates for political seats, especially in the state House of Representatives and to ask them to run for office.
“Women typically don’t run for office unless they are asked,” Ross said. “I had never thought about running for a seat on the college’s board of trustees until someone asked me.”
Ross went over the benefits of a job as a state representative, which include almost $36,000 a year (legislative sessions run from January through mid-May), low-cost family health insurance, $103 per day allowance for each day spent in Jefferson City and 53.5 cents a mile for travel-related expenses.
“So they ran unopposed and got this job, which for a lot of people doesn’t look too bad or it’s even better than the job they currently have,” Ross said.
She encouraged the 250 participants at the March 18 brunch held at the CWA Local 6300 Union Hall in Maryland Heights to think about women who are retired or who sell Avon or Mary Kay. In other words, those who are in their community all the time, she said.
“We are going to go into the smaller, rural communities like Rolla and Springfield, and try to get women to run for some of these seats and help them with fundraising and their campaigns,” she added. “Those Republicans shouldn’t get 70 free seats. It’s ridiculous and has to stop.”
Anyone who has suggestions on women who may be interested in running for office is encouraged to call Ross at 314-458-8702 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.