August: Celebrating and Supporting Women Candidates


..with Jillia Pessenda (Political Director, Women Winning),  Joelle Stangler (Campaign Manager, Ilhan for Congress),
Dr. Alice Mann (Candidate for MN House)


Thursday August 16, a couple dozen women gathered at Lake and Legends Brewing for Third Thursday, Hosted by MSP Now. There was a lot of enthusiasm, some joy and a little sadness at the post-Primaries Third Thursday. We were there to talk about Mobilizing for the Election and how to support women candidates. We celebrated Amy (Klobuchar) and Tina (Smith) at the top of the ticket and the 11 out of 14 women backed by Women Winning that had won. But we mourned the loss of Erin Murphy and Erin Maye Quade in the Gubernatorial race. They were qualified. They were well liked. It raised the question - Are enough people willing to support women at top? It hasn’t happened in 160 years in Minnesota. Not yet.

But with leadership, like the women featured at the forum, it will.

Dr. Alice Mann gave us her first-hand account as a first time candidate. She was spurred by the 2016 elections to contact school friends. They were spurred to meet regularly and when the gates were opened for candidates, Mann decided to run. There was a two-week window to make it happen and she did with a little help from her friends. Someone built the website, someone drafted a plan, someone set up babysitters for the door knockers. Especially for women, it takes that village of support. Throughout the journey, she is learning to toot her horn, to be confident to be loud enough to let everyone know she is right for the job. She’s pretty convincing.

Jillia Pessenda spoke from the Women Winning’s perspective. They support women looking to run for office. Four years ago it was difficult to get the conversation going with many potential women candidates but post 2016 Election woman have been hearing the call. If only Women Winning’s resources could grow as fast as the interest. Their priority focus in women of color. We need to build the pipeline from the bottom, if we can going to get women of color at the top.

Pessenda had good advice for anyone looking to run: have a network around you for support – personal and professional, be confident and don’t be afraid to run more than once. Campaigning is a muscle that gets stronger.

Joelle Strangler spoke about her experience working with Ilhan Omar, the very recently DFL-endorsed candidate for Congress in the Fifth District. Stranger spoke about the need to change the perceived qualifications for good candidates and characteristics of a good leader. Women are good leaders because women are good listeners. But being a good listener doesn’t immediately transfer to being a good speaker. So a strategic way to reach out to voters is to door knock, host small parties, attend smaller events where the candidate can have conversations with constituents. They can learn from each other and build trust. Technology is helping to mobilize those smaller opportunities.

Drawing from the wisdom in the room – we heard from an attendee who admitted that she had learned to build confidence by conducting herself like a mediocre white man; an alter-ego she called Chad. When someone asks if she could do something that would be a stretch for her, she’s answer as Chad and says yes, instead of hesitating. Turns out Chad’s alter ego, a lovely young African American woman, can learn just about anything Chad says he can do.

Are you interested in running for office? Women Winning, Wellstone Action and Emily’s List all have opportunities to learn more.


What’s Next? Save the Date!

September 20th is the next Third Thursday as we continue to work for success in the 2018 elections! More details will be confirmed soon.. See our main Third Thursday event page here

Third Thursdays Social Resistance Gathering is a new series taking place on the third Thursday of each month. The event is a chance for community members to come together, socialize, learn and re-ignite their passion to continue the good fight protecting progressive values in Minnesota.  Third Thursdays are a great opportunity to dig deeper into issues and find out what you can do about them. Get notified of future Third Thursdays. Follow Third Thursday's on Facebook.