Ready to Run seminar educates women interested in politics

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Politically minded women and those looking to get more involved in politics met Saturday morning to talk campaigns, running for office and how to support those who share similar views.

The seminar was titled Ready to Run, and was sponsored by The League of Women Voters of East Alabama at Auburn First Baptist Church.

President of LWVEA Cory Unruh explained the importance of the event brought on by the recent elections in America.

“With the presidential election there’s been a huge uptick, to put it mildly, of interest in getting reps in office who reflect your views and can represent how you feel,” Unruh said. “A lot of women in Alabama and Auburn feel like their elected reps aren’t necessarily representative of themselves and their community.”

Pat VanderMeer, member of American Association for University Women and head of Ready to Run, led the seminar which started with a history of Ready to Run.

“Ready to Run comes from Rutgers University, specifically the center for women in politics, and is 20 years old,” VanderMeer said. “They saw how few women were in office and said ‘We need to change this.’”

The seminar started by encouraging women to ask themselves why they wanted to run, what their strengths and weaknesses as a candidate are, and if they are personally ready to run for office.

VanderMeer explained that those thinking of a political career would have to account for their past and how it might appear to voters, as well as what their sexual orientation, family and religious beliefs might say to constituents. She explained how political races were a huge time and financial commitment, so those looking to run would have to make sure they were running in the right race and for the right reasons.

Those in attendance were there for different reasons. 

Amanda Gallaten, member of LWVEA, said she attended the seminar to see how she could get back into public service. Gallaten said since women make up so much of the population, but so little of elected office, her main goal was to help change that balance.

Ashley Harrison said this was her first time attending an LWVEA event, and that she came to get more involved with politics in general.

“I'm 33 now, I have kids and I feel like now’s the time where I really have to pay attention to politics and our government,” Gallaten said. “Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and like I don’t know anything, so this just felt like a great place to start.”

Anne Leader, volunteer chapter lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, came because of her interest in supporting politicians that share her views, rather than wanting to run for office herself.

“I was interested to come and hear what they had to say more from the view of someone who can support people who advocate what I support,” Leader said. “I'm a huge supporter of getting people out to vote, I feel that’s important for women.”

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