Tuesday's election results mean more women will be joining Washington's Legislature as well as Congress. Here's to those women who stepped up and decided that their voices were needed.
Washington’s Legislature looks as if it will not only become more Democratic next year, but also more female.
Particularly on the latter point, it’s about time.
Having more women in office isn’t just about numbers or bragging rights. Stronger representation means our state government benefits from a broader perspective on the important issues of the day. That means a deeper understanding of how state policies affect half the state’s population.
While Washington’s Legislature used to lead the nation in terms of female representation, those numbers fell off significantly after 2000. Between 2011 and 2013, only 32 percent of Washington state lawmakers were women. Those are the kind of low levels the state had not seen since before the historic “Year of the Woman” election in 1992.
The retirement of several strong female legislators in recent years also meant that, by 2013, women were no longer in charge of the state’s budget writing process as they once were.
The number of female legislative leaders has gradually increased the past few years. Still, judging by early returns from Tuesday’s election, 2019 is shaping up to be the first time since 2000 that women could make up 40 percent or more of Washington’s Legislature.
In the past, women often have needed to be asked to run for office multiple times, said Democratic political consultant Cathy Allen. Far too often, they have automatically considered themselves unqualified to serve.
But this year has been different, said Allen, the vice president of education and training for the National Women’s Political Caucus. Women saw their voices were needed — and they stepped up to answer that call, she said.
In addition to the new women who will be headed to the state Capitol, voters sent record numbers of women to Congress on Tuesday night. Congress and the state Legislature also are poised to become more racially diverse, with voters electing more people of color.
Here’s to those women who decided this year, that yes, they would indeed make valuable additions to our state government.
And who then put in the hard work to make it happen.