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Women rising through the ranks nationwide as well as in Leon County

Women rising through the ranks nationwide as well as in Leon County
Women rising through the ranks nationwide as well as in Leon County
Posted at 4:53 PM, Nov 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 16:53:00-05

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - Candidates broke down barriers with several historic victories in Tuesday's midterm elections nationwide. 

It was no different in Leon County, with more women candidates since 1998, when the Supervisor of Elections' Office began keeping track. 

Leon County's 2018 election cycle had women running in 17 of the 18 races, which is a jump when you look at Supervisor of Elections data from 20 years ago. 

It's a trend we're seeing around the country. One Leon County winner, Alva Stripland, who retained her District 1 School Board Seat said one of the challenges is just getting started.  

"It's very difficult to run because you have to ask people for money and majority of my doners are male," said Stripland. "So that means going to business owners and these very powerful men in your community and trying to explain to them why you're going to be a great school board member." 

Supervisor of Elections data shows women account for almost 60 percent of Leon County's population, yet they only make up 25 percent of city and county representation.  

Despite the increase in women on the ballot in Leon County, twice as many men ran for government office.

That's why the Oasis Center for Women and Girls has a program called, Women Can Run, encouraging and educating the ladies on running for office. 

"When you have women at the table, women of all philosophical stances, you encourage diversity of thought," said Michelle Gomez, Executive Director of the Oasis Center for Women and Girls. "You expand your opportunity for innovation in policy change that impacts positively the lives of a broader number of people." 

Gomez said it starts at home. The first step is winning a smaller, local office, the next step, could be a statewide or even national seat. And these women are showing other young women, they can run too. 

"It's not that our voices are more important than men. It's that our voices are equally as important," said Stripland. 

More than 100 women were elected in the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms.

So in 2019, they will make up 22 percent of Congress, that's up from 20 percent in the previous legislative session.

That's very close to statistics for Leon County, where women make up 25 percent of city and county representation.