L to R: Paducah City Commissioner Sarah Stewart Holland, Jennifer Moore, Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless, Family Court Judge Deanna Henschel
Emerge Kentucky has been training Democratic women to run for office since 2009. With the Class of 2017 of twenty six women, 140 Democratic women have gone through the program. Emerge Kentucky boasted a success rate of 61% in most recent election. It's helping women beat the electoral odds.
Friday, February 24th, Emerge Kentucky introduced the new class to the Purchase and for several of the women, introduced the Purchase to them. A fundraiser/reception was attended by around 100 at the Grand Lodge, historic old building on North 5th Street in Paducah.
The twenty six women are drawn from all corners of the Bluegrass State. Candidates from Cattletsburg, Cold Spring, Covington, Williamsburg, Maysville, Louisville and Lexington, and Corbin are some of the map dots this year's class hails from. The program prides itself on extending the invitation to participate across the Commonwealth.
Shown at right: Beth Fiss, Franklin, Tanisha Hickerson, Louisville, David Ramey, Murray and Crystal Chappell of Drakesboro. David Ramey, the Calloway County Dem chair and former candidate for the Kentucky House, has been a staunch supporter of Emerge Kentucky.
Signing up for Emerge requires tuition, taking off from jobs and family to attend training workshops and meets and greets across the state, and doing homework. It also calls for a commitment to run for elective office.
Three women from the Paducah area signed up this year, Abbie Barnes, Leigh Ann Dycus and Julie Tennyson. Shown at left, Julie Tennyson and Abbie Barnes.
Abbie and Julie are both attorneys. Julie is a patent attorney, one of few in Kentucky. Julie recently opened a law office with her husband, Scott Marcum. She proudly pointed us toward the firm's website http://marcumtennyson.com Julie is not sure what she wants to do politically but she is enjoying the training.
Abbie Barnes lives in Livingston County and works at the Alford Law Firm. Barnes is a former public defender and domestic violence prosecutor in McCracken County. Abbie came to Emerge Kentucky after seeing the electoral success of three Paducah women: Family Court Judge Deanna Henschel, Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless and Paducah City Councilwoman Sarah Stewart Holland. All three won nonpartisan seats in the election of 2016.
Harless told the crowd that struggles for women leaders to be recognized continue. Having Sarah Stewart Holland on the Paducah City Commission has given her an ally who "has her back." She told the class to consider running for a nonpartisan office. It had not been on her mind when she began Emerge training. By the end, "it just felt right."
The new Mayor told us early in the evening that she is giving herself a ninety day learning period. She said that doing so has reduced the anxiety level of the City Commission and local leaders. It is giving her time to get into the job before bringing her ideas to the table.
Shown at right, Emerge Kentucky founder Jennifer Moore, a former Kentucky Democratic Party Chair, said that "Kentucky is 42nd in the nation for the number of women in elected office." According to Moore, the United States fares little better. It's 97th in the world for women in office.
Sarah Stewart Holland spoke glowingly of what Emerge Kentucky had done for her. It has answered dreams.
"People say all the time we need an Emerge for men."
She paused then said "No."
The twenty six members of the 2017 Emerge Class are part of a growing number of women interested in running for office. Many are spurred by the results of the November 2016 election.
Fortune Magazine recently reported that more than 4,000 women say that they want to run for office since Trump's election.
"On Monday, Emily's List, the political action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic women, released some hard numbers to back up that anecdotal evidence. Since Trump won the White House on November 8, more than 4,000 women have reached out to the organization to say they may want to seek elected office--that's quadruple the number of women Emily's List had heard from in the past 22 months combined and includes 1,660 inquiries since inauguration day alone." http://fortune.com/2017/02/07/trump-women-running-for-office/
"Emerge Kentucky offers Democratic women leaders the opportunity for top-notch candidate training and mentoring, giving women the skills, confidence, and network to run effective and successful campaigns. Emerge Kentucky's curriculum includes training in public speaking, fundraising, campaign strategy, field operations, labor and endorsements, networking, media skills, messaging, and ethics in politics. Participants complete seven sessions over a six-month period. Emerge Kentucky email 09/11/2015
Women find the sessions interesting and engaging. Lilith McGhee of Louisville told us that "I have a short attention span. I haven't been bored yet." Others at the table agreed. They said that the assignments are always interesting and engaging.
For more information on Emerge Kentucky or to make a donation, contact Executive Director Blair Haydon at email@example.com or (859) 248-0847
To see a list of the Class of 2017, see West Kentucky Women in 2017 Emerge Class