Groups ranging from the League of Women Voters to the Iowa Association of School Boards are calling upon more Iowa women to consider running for political office. Dianne Bystrom of Iowa State University’s Center for Women and Politics says women need to be encouraged to pursue their political ambitions. "Women need to be asked to run," Bystrom says. "If you talk to almost every woman politician, she has been asked to run by a friend, by a neighbor — told that she can do it."
Thirty-four women are now serving in the Iowa Legislature — the most ever — but Iowa still ranks 25th in the country in terms of the number of women in the state legislature. Bystrom hopes this last-minute effort on the part of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women and other groups leads more women to file nominating papers later this month to seek spots at the statehouse. "This is a good time to run," Bystrom says. "2008 — change is in the air."
Representative Linda Miller, a Republican from Bettendorf, says she ran for office because she felt she could do a better job than the incumbent. "The one thing I’d like to see us do is…encourage our girls and our young women to run for office, whatever their goals may be because they thing they have to learn is the first loss is not necessarily a loss. It’s an experience," Miller says. "You can’t always win but you can always learn."
Staci Appel, a Democrat from Ackworth, was elected to the Iowa Senate in 2006. "I hope by my running for the senate and winning this seat with four young children and being pregnant shows other young women can do it and you can win," Appel says.
Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro was among those who endorsed Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. "You know we had a great opportunity in this state to see a woman run for president of the United States," Mauro says. "Absolutely spectacular to have that happen in this country and it’s absolutely spectacular to see this race come right down to the end."
Since 1945, 71 other countries around the world have elected a woman as prime minister or president. The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women organized an event at the statehouse today to mark the progress women have made in attaining office. The Iowa League of Cities and the Iowa State Association of Counties were the other cosponsors of the effort to recruit more women to run for elective office in Iowa.