Getting more pro-choice people involved in politics

by Samantha Clemans on February 13, 2012

in Blog, Why We Fight

Oregon Women's Campaign School mentor brunch

A packed room at the Oregon Women's Campaign School mentor brunch. Sunday, February 5, 2012.

What do I fight for? Simply put, I fight for equality. Even in the United States, there is an unprecedented amount of underrepresented communities fighting to have their voice heard. As cheesy as it might sound, I fight to try and make for a more just and fair system. This is why I’m so excited about work that I recently did to help out the Oregon Women’s Campaign School.

The campaign school is Oregon’s very own pro-choice training ground for people running or considering running for office, and their staff. While the campaign school was created to specifically get more women elected, the current goal of the school is to get pro-choice people, men and women, elected in Oregon. To do this, the school trains attendees on specifics for campaigning and provides a great networking opportunity for people just entering the political fray.

There are far too few female elected officials. For example, there are 17 female U.S. Senators (out of 100 senators), and 74 female House Representatives (out of 435 representatives, including Oregon’s own Suzanne Bonamici). Plainly, there needs to be better female representation nationally and locally. This is where the campaign school comes in.

The school has been around for just about 30 years and was created and maintained by some influential and amazing Oregon women, Gretchen Kafoury and Governor Barbara Roberts to name a few.

This year I had the pleasure to participate on the board for the campaign school, working on writing up the curriculum, inviting presenters and attendees, and yes, even fundraising. And, I just have to say, the school this year was awesome: attendance was great, people were engaged, presenters were on point and the keynote, Kate Chapek, rocked.

One of the most exciting things that I got to work on was the following video Winning Mark donated featuring Gretchen Kafoury who was one of the founding mothers of the school.

Working on political campaigns is not an easy profession to take up, and is not for everyone. It requires working late into the night, moxie, professionalism and so much more. In addition, you don’t learn how to campaign in high school or college (or at least I didn’t). One of the many opportunities that the school provides is a chance to learn the tips and tricks of the political trade from people who have been there and done that many times before. The only way to learn about campaigns and campaigning is by doing it yourself, or talking to people who have experience.

This year, we were able to bring together campaigners from many spectrums of the field: elected officials (including U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, candidates and former candidates, fundraising experts, campaign managers, endorsers, and online organizers. Please check out the following photos taken by John at the event, and follow the campaign school on Facebook for ongoing tips and ideas.

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