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Women urge women to seek public office

October 14, 2000

Women urge women to seek public office



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


Women can win elected office and make a difference doing so.

That was the message Saturday morning during a Women At The Table forum at the Women's Club in Hagersown.

Everyone can make a difference when it comes to issues such as foreign policy, said introductory speaker Patricia K. Cushwa.

Cushwa said the belief that "all politics are local" was tragically illustrated Thursday when an apparent terrorist attack on the USS Cole killed two Washington County sailors.

"The people who make foreign policy are us," Cushwa said. "It brought home so tragically why we all have to get involved."

That includes women, Cushwa said.

"Men lose elections all the time. Too often, women will take it as a personal defeat rather than just a defeat," said Cushwa, a Williamsport resident who has held several public offices and has been chairwoman of the Maryland Parole Commission since 1997.

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"When women run, women win as often as men. I don't think we realize that," said keynote speaker Del. Sue Hecht.

"To get more women in office, we need to encourage more women to be candidates," said Hecht, D-Washington/Frederick.

That may seem daunting when more than half of women registered to vote don't, Hecht said.

Women should consider running for office or helping other women run for office because they focus on more priorities, several of which are of particular concern among women, Hecht said.

Like their male counterparts, women legislators are concerned about tax reform, education and infrastructure, she said.

However, women legislators also are interested in women's issues such as women's health care, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, maternity leave, day care, division of property in divorce, pay equity and gun safety, Hecht said.

Women also tend to approach issues differently, she said.

Women legislators are more likely to pursue funding substance abuse and training programs for nonviolent offenders to help them re-enter the mainstream because the cost of keeping them in prison is so high, Hecht said.

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