You Go Girl!
In Chicago two African American women were the top two vote getters out of 14 candidates for mayor. On February 26, 2019 Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle advanced to an April 2 runoff election. The election is already being heralded as historic because it will elect Chicago’s first African American woman. Ms. Lightfoot is also openly gay and, if elected, she would be the first openly LGBT Mayor of Chicago.
In California women are crushing it in Washington D.C. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris are two of the most influential legislators on the Hill. Senator Feinstein became the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee—the first woman to assume that role— and was also the first woman to chair the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a position she has held since 2009.
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) is the first female Speaker of the House and is third in line to be president.
Unlike Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco or Pocahontas , Ms. Pelosi is so effective in dealing with President Trump the only belittling nick name he can think of is “Nancy.”
Although not in the girls’ club, I have to also commend Congress Member Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) on his election as the House Minority Leader. For the first time in U.S. history, both the Speaker of the House and House Minority Leader come from the same state.
So how’s the pink wave rolling in the Central Valley?
There are seven incorporated towns in Tulare County and four in Kings County. Women are on every council except for one, and in over half of those, a woman is either the mayor, vice mayor, or both.
So did Visalia pick a woman to be mayor or vice mayor?
That would be a little difficult because it is the one city out of 11 that does not have a woman on its council.
Women run for Visalia City Council–they just don’t normally win. I grew up in here and I can only recall two women ever sitting at the dais.
During the 2018 general election, then candidate for City Council District 3 Brian Poochigian stopped me at the door of a candidates’ forum. He was anxious to hear my election predictions before we went to print. I told him I did expect him to win, but that I was going to encourage voters to vote for Merritt Wiseman even though the Valley Voice does not endorse candidates.
He said he totally understood and was very much looking forward to reading my column.
Good answer Brian!
Candidate Steve Woods on the other hand was just offended.
After waxing poetic how compassionate he is and how many strong women voices shape his opinion, Mr. Woods commented on my column saying,
“Our city, our very nation, needs many more men who have learned long ago to listen to all voices, and to respect all opinions. I have done so, and will continue to do so.”
Wrong answer Steve!
I remember when I was nine months pregnant as the night manager at my work place in Berkeley locking up at 10pm. The parking lot was several blocks away and I was neither able to fight back or run away from a possible perpetrator while on my way to my car.
I was also aware that homicide is one of the leading causes of death of pregnant women in the United States.
Though my care level at nine months was through the basement, I still managed to reorganize my life so I neither carried a purse or wallet so I would be less of a target.
I wonder if Mr. Woods has ever left his wallet at home because he had a big red target painted on his back.
I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer. I’m just saying this isn’t something men think about.
A man can participate in the Women’s March, and surround himself with “strong women’s voices.”
But that’s not the point.
The point is that the Visalia City Council is missing out on the perspective of over half the world’s population. No amount of male compassion can replace perspective.
Of course men have their own crosses to bear.
Out of sheer stupidity, men are at a much higher risk of dying a violent death than are women.
You can’t cure stupid, but society can make the world a safer place for women and children. That will happen faster as women take their place in local and federal government.
I don’t know if the other Central Valley towns deserve any special credit for having women on their councils. In fact, Lemoore is waging an all out war on their only female council member.
But let’s just be honest–Visalia runs a pretty tight ship, but it sure would be nice to see something other than a gaggle of old white men sitting at the dais.
A Bountiful Harvest
Some people might confuse the ballot harvesting that happened in North Carolina versus a campaign strategy in California.
In a nut shell here’s the difference.
What happened in California is called a “ground game.” What happened in North Carolina was voter fraud and the state had to void the 2018 ninth district Congressional election.
In California volunteers went door to door to remind residents to vote. Then volunteers offered to drive any voter in the house to their polling place or deliver their sealed ballot to a drop off box.
Republican volunteers for Congressional candidate Mark Harris of North Carolina did the same thing, except his volunteers filled out the ballots themselves.
If not already obvious, that’s illegal.
The volunteers in North Carolina took it one step further and helped families fill out applications to receive absentee ballots. Those ballots never arrived and it is presumed those ballots went to the volunteers who then voted for the Republican candidate.
Mr. Harris claims to have no knowledge of what the volunteers were doing.
As a result, North Carolina Congressional District 9 has called for a new election in May. Mr. Harris has declined to run again.
As a result of California’s ground game seven Republican congressional districts were flipped and Republicans had to admit they were out campaigned.
League of Women Voter volunteer, Maile Melkonian, took off her non-partisan hat one week before the general election to work for the Janz for Congress campaign.
Mr. Janz’ ground game had its own strategy but was similar to what the Democratic Party was doing all over the state.
According to Ms. Melokian, volunteers had master lists of residents that were registered Democrats and knocked on all their doors. She and her partner would ask the occupants of the house if they planned on voting. If the answer was yes then they asked if they needed any assistance such as a ride to their polling place.
“We had explicit instructions not to touch any ballots unless it was sealed in the blue envelope and then only if the resident asked us to deliver it for them.”
Ms. Melokian recounted one instance where the resident wanted them to take his ballot to a drop off box. But the envelop was ripped and she and her partner were not comfortable handling the ballot. They instead offered to drive the resident to his polling place so he could hand it in himself.
At the polling place the poll workers discovered he had the wrong ballot. The man had saved his ballot from the June primary and had misplaced his general election ballot. The poll workers gave him a provisional ballot that, after being verified by the registrars’ office, is counted like a regular ballot.
When the California election returns were certified a month later, and several Republicans who had been ahead on election night ended up losing their seat, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the California election system “just defies logic to me.”
Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State, said in a statement to the Hill, “It is bizarre that Paul Ryan cannot grasp basic voting rights protections. It shouldn’t ‘defy logic’ that elections officials are meticulous in counting every eligible ballot. California works to ensure every ballot is counted properly and every ballot is accounted for. In the most populous state in the nation — and the state with the largest number of registered voters — this takes time.”
Ms. Melokian, who has been non-partisan her entire life, said California wants to ensure that everyone votes.
“You really have to screw things up not to vote here,” she said.