Support Vote Mama, an organization that helps mothers run for elected office.
The makeup of America’s elected officials doesn’t match the makeup of America as a whole. It’s not even close. A 2014 Washington Post story on representation and demographics headlined a startling statistic: White men comprise 31 percent of the American population, but hold 65 percent of all elected offices.
Things are slowly and steadily improving on at least one front. The 117th Congress, sworn in a few months ago, is the most diverse to date, and is the sixth consecutive Congress to improve on the diversity numbers of the previous one.
Women face many obstacles to running for office, and women who are mothers to children under the age of 18 face all those obstacles and more.
Liuba Gretchen Shirley hit those obstacles head on in 2018 when she ran for a House of Representatives seat in New York state. The mother of two young children–they were three and one at the time–learned that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) didn’t allow candidates to use campaign funds to cover child care expenses.
Gretchen Shirley lost the House race, but changed things for the better nonetheless. In April 2018, during her campaign, she petitioned the FEC to change the rules to permit candidates to spend campaign funds on child care. The following month, the FEC voted unanimously to make that change.
Instead of running again in 2020, Gretchen Shirley launched Vote Mama, an organization that recruits progressive-minded mothers to run for office at all levels, and helps them avoid the snags she encountered during her campaign.
Vote Mama’s roster of victorious candidates includes Mimi Rocah, now the district attorney of Westchester, New York; Grace Meng, a freshman House of Representatives member for New York’s 6th District; and several state Congress members in Georgia, Illinois, and Wisconsin. It also notched wins in Virginia’s state legislature in 2019.
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