Cabral highlights value of women serving in elective office

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​Former Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral, who served as the first female sheriff of Suffolk County, presented a strong call to action at the Women Elected Municipal Officials luncheon held during the MMA Annual Meeting on Jan. 19.
“It is high time for women to assume much greater political power, wield much greater control,” she said, “and to pull this country back from the brink of authoritarianism and restore the critical norms of representative democracy that have been trampled daily and in broad daylight.”
Cabral referenced a study conducted by Politico, American University and Loyola Marymount University that found that one of the biggest deterrents to women running for office is a lack of encouragement starting at a young age and following them through college, when their likelihood of running only decreases.
“Women are a majority in this country by a whopping eight-tenths of a percentage point,” Cabral said, “but Congress is less than 20 percent women.
“The gender gap in the perception of elected office as a viable career path is long-standing, but it’s also more troubling because we are a representative democracy.”
Cabral highlighted the increasing number of women running for elected office at all levels of government since the 2016 presidential election, noting that at least 79 women are exploring runs for governor and the number of women challenging incumbents in Congress is up nearly 350 percent.
“For women, compromise is not capitulation,” Cabral said in reference to the inability of Congress recently to reach a compromise and avoid a government shutdown. “If women held more seats in Congress, dangerous partisanship would not be as rampant and government would not be funded month to month.”
When Cabral asked the crowd, by a show of hands, if they ever had doubts about their qualifications to run, many hands went up. Cabral said that ability to be introspective before moving forward should be appreciated as “a sober and appropriate assessment of worthiness to serve the public in the most important capacity,” regardless of whether that introspection is a natural tendency or the result of negative messaging that girls and women experience throughout the course of their lives.
“We could all do with a little more introspection about the role that we play in preserving the great American experiment,” Cabral said. “Let us make sure we never let it slip away.”