Fe­male vic­to­ries dom­i­nate elec­tion

Of the 33 who made it through the June pri­mary, 20 won their races on Tues­day

The Capital - - FRONT PAGE - By Danielle Ohl dohl@capgaznews.com

Charles Car­roll, a rev­o­lu­tion­ary and Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence signer, served in the Mary­land Se­nate more than 230 years ago.

Look­ing out at a crowd of sup­port­ers Tues­day night, state Sen­a­tor-elect Sarah El­freth thanked sup­port­ers, fam­ily friends, Mary­land Speaker of the House Mike Busch and re­tir­ing state Sen. John As­tle. But then she in­voked Car­roll, her pre­de­ces­sor in rep­re­sent­ing Anne Arun­del County.

“While we’ve had sen­a­tors that have done tremen­dous things for this com­mu­nity, in 250 years ev­ery sen­a­tor has looked like Charles Car­roll,” El­freth said.

Tues­day night, the county vot­ers sent two Anne Arun­del County women — El­freth and Del. Pam Bei­dle — to the Se­nate, the first since Janet Greenip served Dis­trict 33 be­tween 2003 and 2009. It was a night of firsts— the first woman elected to serve as Anne Arun­del County state’s at­tor­ney, the first fe­male su­per­ma­jor­ity on the Anne Arun­del County Coun­cil and the first elected school board, all fe­males.

At least 50 women ran for of­fice in Anne

Arun­del County this elec­tion cy­cle, the most ever ac­cord­ing to state elec­tion records. Of the 33 who made it through the pri­mary, 20 won their races Tues­day, some­times com­pet­ing against each other.

El­freth and Bei­dle were among nine women in the Gen­eral Assem­bly and County Coun­cil to take over seats held by men. Newly elected Dis­trict 30A del­e­gate Alice Cain, who will re­place long­time Del. Herb MacMil­lan, said Wed­nes­day she didn’t run on be­ing a woman, but nev­er­the­less, her rep­re­sen­ta­tion is im­por­tant.

“Part of why I ran is … be­cause, as a woman, there are a lot of peo­ple in power right now, and I would start in the White House, who don’t have a lot of the same pri­or­i­ties I have and a lot of my friends have,” she said. “I wanted to bring our voice into the con­ver­sa­tion.”

Cain, El­freth and Bei­dle will join Dis­trict 32 Del­e­gate-elect Sandy Bartlett, Dis­trict 21 Del­e­gate-elect Mary Lehman and in­cum­bent Del. Jose­line Peña-Mel­nyk in rep­re­sent­ing Anne Arun­del County in the Gen­eral Assem­bly. Anne Colt Leitess tri­umphed over State’s At­tor­ney Wes Adams, af­ter he unseated her in 2014, be­com­ing the first woman elected to the job.

In 2013, Colt Leitess was the first woman to hold the seat, but she was ap­pointed, not elected. She said in tak­ing the job she ap­plied the wis­dom learned over a life­time and as a wife and mother.

“One of the things that hap­pened to me be­fore when I got that po­si­tion, it was re­ally quite eye open­ing. Be­cause there were peo­ple who came and said you need to do this you, need to do that, you need to make this change and … I im­me­di­ately thought, no, ev­ery­thing I do has a rip­ple ef­fect — if I make a de­ci­sion about some­thing, it could af­fect all th­ese other is­sues,” she said. “I think that women tend to be col­lab­o­ra­tive. I think that women think about ev­ery sin­gle per­spec­tive.”

Five women — Sarah Lacey, Al­li­son Pickard, Amanda Fei­dler, Lisa Brani­gan Rod­vien and Jes­sica Haire — took over seats on the all-male Anne Arun­del County Coun­cil to es­tab­lish the first fe­male ma­jor­ity since Bei­dle served in 2002.

Bei­dle was a men­tor for some of the fe­male can­di­dates run­ning this cy­cle. Her first pri­mary elec­tion was “re­ally, re­ally tough,” she said, and she didn’t have any­one to turn to.

“I felt like it was my re­spon­si­bil­ity to men­tor them, to help them,” she said. “It’s not an easy thing to run for of­fice. I know what it’s like to get started and not have some­one help.”

On the Demo­cratic side, the women run­ning built a coali­tion to pro­vide train­ing and sup­port. They at­tended school board and county coun­cil meet­ings. They pro­vided an uplift­ing text or phone call dur­ing tough days.

Bartlett said she was es­pe­cially grate­ful to have Bei­dle.

“She un­der­stood be­ing ques­tioned by men in ways men were not ques­tioned by each other,” she said. “She un­der­stood hav­ing to be a strong, beau­ti­ful, grace­ful per­son and also be­ing a force to be reck­oned with.”

The new leg­is­la­tors said they hope they can pro­vide rep­re­sen­ta­tion that comes from know­ing what it’s like to be the only one in a room that looks dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­one else. Be­ing a woman in of­fice can bring a much-needed per­spec­tive on rights typ­i­cally branded as “women’s is­sues,” as the ills that af­fect women are some­times symp­toms of larger in­equity, they said.

“When we talk about birth con­trol, when we talk about choice, when we talk about child­care, uni­ver­sal pre-kinder­garten, those have so of­ten been pi­geon­holed as tra­di­tional women’s is­sues and have not got­ten the at­ten­tion they de­serve,” El­freth said. “To me, it all boils down to a woman hav­ing a choice over when she has a fam­ily, when she has a job. It’s an eco­nomic is­sue.”

But so-called women’s is­sues are of­ten just peo­ple is­sues. Al­most ev­ery can­di­date in­ter­viewed said they’d be fo­cus­ing on ed­u­ca­tion is­sues, as this year the Gen­eral Assem­bly will be con­sid­er­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Kir­wan Com­mis­sion and rewrit­ing the fund­ing for­mula for state schools.

Bei­dle, who said she’d be on the bud­get and tax com­mit­tee, would like to get pre­scrip­tion fund­ing back for re­tirees. Cain wants to strengthen laws that would pre­vent fu­ture gun vi­o­lence. El­freth wants to up­date the state For­est Con­ser­va­tion Act.

Cain, who was able to work with Repub­li­can aides dur­ing her time as­sist­ing the Con­gres­sional ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tees, said she hopes the grow­ing con­tin­gent of fe­male leg­is­la­tors might help get things done.

“Par­tic­u­larly when you’re work­ing in a cli­mate that is a man’s world or pri­mar­ily run by men, you find ways to help each other,” she said. “That’s one of the rea­sons we were able to get some re­ally good things done on Capi­tol Hill. We ap­proached the work as ‘let’s lis­ten and learn and fig­ure out where we have com­mon ground.’ ”

De­spite suc­cesses else­where, in Dis­trict 33 four women — Eve Hur­witz, Heather Bag­nall, Pam Luby and Tra­cie Cramer Hover­male — were un­suc­cess­ful in their bid to un­seat the three male in­cum­bent del­e­gates and sen­a­tor. As of Tues­day night, Dels. Tony McCon­key, Michael Mal­one and Sid Saab nar­rowly won re-elec­tion. But Demo­cratic chal­lenger Bag­nall, who is 645 votes away from over­com­ing McCon­key, is hold­ing out for ab­sen­tee bal­lots.

Hur­witz, who ran for state Se­nate, said she’d be mov­ing on to try to ac­com­plish her goals as a pri­vate civil­ian. She has al­ready or­ga­nized a rally Thurs­day sup­port­ing Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller, who is in­ves­ti­ga­tion Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign ties to Rus­sia dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion. Trump forced for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions, who had re­cused him­self from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, to re­sign Wed­nes­day.

Hur­witz said the Mary­land Demo­cratic Party could have pro­vided more sup­port for the Dis­trict 33 can­di­dates, but rec­og­nized they might not have the fi­nan­cial re­sources. She said she asked for $500 a month to as­sist the Dis­trict 33 races and of­fice space.

Fabion Seaton, spokesman for the party, said pro­vid­ing that money would be un­fea­si­ble. If the party of­fered that kind of do­na­tion for all 400 can­di­dates statewide, it would cost $200,000 a month, Seaton said.

But the party had vol­un­teers and or­ga­niz­ers car­ry­ing lit­er­a­ture and knock­ing on doors “for ev­ery sin­gle race,” Seaton said.

Hur­witz said was proud of how far she and the other Dis­trict 33 can­di­dates came, de­spite run­ning lean cam­paigns. She said she thinks her gen­der made a dif­fer­ence, even if to stand out from the tra­di­tion­ally white, male can­di­dates run­ning in Dis­trict 33.

“I think a lot of the women that won were not hes­i­tant to say that — “’I’m a woman and that’s OK.’ That’s dif­fer­ent,” she said. “And don’t vote for me just be­cause I’m a woman, but rep­re­sen­ta­tion mat­ters.”


Sarah El­freth was elected to the Dis­trict 30 Mary­land Se­nate seat left open by the re­tir­ing John As­tle.


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