As local voters went to the polls this week, a group of area women had their eyes on another prize, one a few years away.
Sue Johannsen, Holly Oppelt and Karen Cooney of Muscatine are part of the 50/50 in 2020 movement, a group of female organizers looking to increase the number of women running for and gaining elected office.
The trio have been hard at work canvassing and planning in conjunction with the League of Women Voters and the League of Business and Professional Women, and they’re looking forward to several upcoming informational events, which can be found at 50-50in2020.org.
“More than half of the population is women, but the number of representatives in public office doesn’t reflect that,” Johannsen said. “We’re trying to change that.”
“This is a nonpartisan group,” Oppelt said. “We’re not affiliated with one party; we’re trying to increase participation by all women across the board.”
The women have been independently involved in various civic activities, which made them ideal candidates for this organization.
“This is a pilot program for change,” Cooney said. “We’re looking at the whole area, all elected offices, and we’re working on helping to give people more information about what they need to be a part of the process.”
“We’re trying to get more women elected and interested and involved at the local, state and national level,” Johannsen said. “I think it’s important, not just to have those voices heard, to represent the population, but it’s important to have role models for other young women who might want to be a part of the process.”
Some of the topics they cover include teaching people how to get their name on a ballot, and how to campaign and how to raise money.
“We talk to people all over and there are a lot of people who want to be involved, but they don’t know how,” Johannsen said. “We’re here to help with that.”
“Even if they don’t decide to run for office, there are a lot of other ways to get involved,” Oppelt added. “You can help out on campaigns and help out in different ways around the community.”
There’s also another strong draw for the group, they said.
“This is a great way to build up your networking skills and to meet new people,” Johannsen said.
“A lot of our speakers are really amazing, just to come out to hear them and be a part of it is a good thing,” Oppelt said.
The group’s next program is Oct. 20.
“This is a way for people to have a positive impact upon their communities and their lives,” Johannsen said. “We look forward to meeting anyone who wants to get involved.”