10-25-2020 Women to Watch - Flipbook - Page 28
sional delegation is entirely male, and mostly white.
Maryland is one of only 12 states with no female representation on the federal level.
Deckman says the power of incumbency is so
strong at the federal level that it’s kept women from
After Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of
Baltimore died last year, several prominent women
sought the open seat, including his widow, Maya
Rockeymoore Cummings, and state Sen. Jill Carter.
Voters chose Kweisi Mfume, who had previously represented the 7th District.
Republican Kimberly Klacik is now challenging
him, though the district is considered safely Democratic.
There has also never been a female governor in
Maryland. Eva Lewis, chair of the state’s Democratic
Party, said that while there’s so much national focus
on the November election, ofcials here are already
looking ahead to 2022; term limits bar Republican
Gov. Larry Hogan from seeking a third, four-year
Of the 10 counties governed by executives, two are
led by women. These roles are considered launching
pads for statewide ofce, and Angela Alsobrooks of
Prince George’s County is often discussed as a potential Democratic contender for governor.
“We have a big election in 2022, and I’m very interested to see who is going to be running because it’ll
be so open on both sides,” Lewis said.
No Republican women are currently serving as
county executives, but some names have come up
as potential statewide candidates. Del. Kathy Szeliga
of Baltimore County is the House minority whip and
unsuccessfully mounted U.S. Senate challenge in
2016. Hogan’s administration includes a handful of
high-prole women, such as Commerce Secretary
So far, the only major candidate to declare his
intention to run is a man: State Comptroller Peter
Women’s lived experiences often shape the kinds
of policies they champion while in elected ofce: Female legislators have led the way on issues of pay discrimination, domestic violence and health care.
Odette Ramos, the Democratic nominee for City
Council for Baltimore’s 14th District, often works
out of her campaign ofce which will likely soon become her district ofce. Her 8-year-old daughter will
sometimes join her, using the space as her virtual
classroom. As she logged into her third grade class
by Zoom on a recent weekday, her mom’s campaign
posters were set up behind her.
Ramos knows many other working mothers are
also balancing their jobs with overseeing their children’s education during a tumultuous year.
“We have to make policies that support families,”
she said. “There’s a perspective we have, because we
have so much going on, that we have to be able to
WO M E N T O WAT C H
Odette Ramos is the Democratic nominee for City Council District 14. She would be Baltimore’s first
Hispanic council member if she wins the general election in November. PHOTO BY KENNETH K. LAM
focus on policies that help families.”
Ramos, who would be the rst Latina elected in
Baltimore history, is poised to succeed Democrat
Mary Pat Clarke — a longtime councilwoman and
stalwart supporter of women in politics. Clarke continuously pushed for more representation in City
Hall, but it continues to lag. Only four of the Democratic nominees for the next council are women (one
female Green Party candidate is also seeking a seat).
“It was not as good as we wanted,” Ramos said.
Women often face challenges with fundraising
and developing the condence to declare a run for
ofce, experts say. Maryland is home to several organizations that work to help women build a support
network and the skills to get elected.
Ramos, for example, came through Emerge Maryland, which recruits and trains Democratic women
for local ofce. Similar groups include Emily’s List
and She Should Run. These groups tend to be geared
to electing progressive women, rather than conservatives.
“If we’re really serious about building the bench
in Baltimore, we have to do it systematically, and we
have to do it right,” Ramos said.
She’s encouraged by the city’s efforts to support
the public nancing of campaigns. Voters approved
the creation of a Fair Elections Fund to limit big
money’s inuence by providing matching funds
to qualied candidates for mayor, City Council and
comptroller who pledge to refuse contributions from
corporations and PACs.
Proponents say it will help level the playing eld
and make it easier for people from underrepresented
groups, including women, to have a shot.
Jones has condence Maryland as a whole will
make progress, too.
In her short tenure, she’s had to govern through a
global pandemic, while pushing for increased funding for public schools and historically Black colleges.
But on a much smaller scale, she also identied a
problem that was long overlooked by her predecessors. For decades, men had access to more bathroom
stalls off the House oor. Women would, meanwhile,
have to wait in longer lines for fewer toilets, potentially missing out on important legislative action.
Jones wasn’t having it. She rearranged the layout
so there were three stalls for both — as well as adding a gender-neutral bathroom and a lactation room.
Changing tables were also added to the public men’s
This “potty parity,” Jones said, likely wouldn’t
have come under a male speaker.