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Local View: In Minnesota, elsewhere, when women win, we all win

From the column: "When women are a part of every level of government, we succeed in a core aspect of democracy: fair representation."

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John Darkow / Cagle Cartoons
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One hundred years after the first women were elected to the Minnesota Legislature , elected women continue to transform the lives of families and communities in our great state, proving that change in our country is possible.

Women’s experiences — here in Minnesota and in every state — are needed in our democracy. Electing more women increases the chances that policymaking and deliberation include women's views and lived experience. It means the immediate issues harming women, particularly those that affect women of color, will be addressed urgently and intentionally.

We know that when women are elected, women tend to pass more legislation, collaborate with counterparts across the aisle, bring more financing back to home districts, and develop more effective and equitable solutions.

This coming legislative season in Minnesota, we have a $17.6 billion surplus that will be allocated to address the needs of our state. With women of color and LGBT folks in the Capitol, this money is more likely to be issued equitably, going toward pro-choice, pro-family, and pro-education needs.

When women are a part of every level of government, we succeed in a core aspect of democracy: fair representation. It makes sense to elect candidates who will champion issues of gender equality; prioritize the elimination of gender-based violence; support better education and health care systems, housing, and criminal justice reform; and promote job creation. Women are uniquely positioned to speak to the urgency and critical importance of these issues.

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In 2022, they were elected precisely because of their perspectives and persistence to do the right thing.

For Minnesota voters and candidates, the 2022 midterm election was an election of firsts — and not by coincidence. The organization where I work, Vote Run Lead , is a nonprofit training powerhouse that focuses on improving women’s representation in America’s statehouses. Vote Run Lead seeks to unleash the political power of women as voters, candidates, and leaders and has trained more than 55,000 women to run for office nationwide.

In Minnesota, Vote Run Lead alumni went on to make history this past election.

Erin Maye Quade in District 56, Zaynab Mohamed in District 63, and Clare Oumou Verbeten in District 66 all won their races, making them the first three Black women in the Minnesota Senate's 164-year history . Mohamed is also Minnesota’s first Somali woman in the state Senate, and both Maye Quade and Oumou Verbeten are proud members of Minnesota’s LGBTQ+ community.

Liz Lee, another Vote Run Lead alumna, will represent St Paul’s east side as the first woman and Hmong legislator to represent District 67A. And Nicole Mitchell will be our very first woman veteran in the state Legislature.

Duluth also made history by electing Alicia Kozlowski, Minnesota’s first Mexican, Ojibwe, and nonbinary person in the House.

All 11 LGBTQ candidates running for the Minnesota Legislature won .

When women win, we all win. The sooner we understand that the lack of women in leadership roles holds back not only women, but all people, the sooner we will be able to advance society as a whole. After all, the power to create an equitable democracy, and the responsibility to sustain it, belong to all of us.

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Beth Peterson of Aurora is the Minnesota senior state director for Vote Run Lead (voterunlead.org), a nonprofit that encourages and supports women voting and running for public office.

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Beth Peterson

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