A Report from Judy's Deputy Ranger
This is the second in a new series, ‘Where’s Wicks: Reports from her Deputy Ranger.’ Even at 71, Judy’s out advocating for local economies, fighting climate change, rallying for progressive political candidates, and supporting under-resourced Philadelphia entrepreneurs. I’m writing to share first-hand accounts of her latest escapades. - Katherine Rapin
Dear Friends and Readers,
Despite the slew of horrendous national headlines we read everyday, we’re writing with good news: a record-breaking number of women are running for political office this year. Like many Philadelphians, Judy traditionally focuses on candidates running for federal and city offices, while largely ignoring races for the state legislature. But this year is different.
With the primary elections around the corner, I’ve watched Judy work with groups focused on state elections including Represent PA, a PAC that is pushing an important agenda: send more progressive woman to Harrisburg.
With the expertise of political consultants, the PAC sorted through 70 applications to select a list of 32 candidates to endorse and finance. (View the list here.) “This PAC is an effective vehicle for supporting candidates running in other parts of the state who we might not otherwise know about,” says Judy, “These are the people who will determine statewide legislation that affects all of our lives."
Last month, we heard from candidates at an event organized by the PAC. Judy was excited to meet Elizabeth Fiedler, a former WHYY reporter and mother of two, who's running for the 184th district seat in South Philadelphia. “These women are stepping into their own power," says Judy, ”It’s time we women envision ourselves as political leaders.”
Other Represent PA-endorsed candidates Judy has known for years. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, running for re-election in the 161st district, was the first executive director of the Sustainable Business Network. Her office was on the second floor of Judy’s house. “She’s one of my greatest mentors,” Krueger-Braneky told me at a recent event.
The state representative from Swarthmore shared a glimpse of what it’s like to work in Harrisburg; Krueger-Braneky is among the women that make up fewer than 20% of the general assembly.
Seven women serve among 53 men in the Senate; 41 women serve among 162 men in the House, and there are no women in the 18-member delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Which means Krueger-Braneky has spent the last three years fighting abortion bills and “defending basic human rights,” she says, rather than focusing on the issues that motivated her to run for office in the first place (increasing minimum wage, supporting local business, advocating for our environment, and improving education).
Recently, she found herself in a room of chuckling men as the definition of sexual harassment was outlined in a committee meeting. “Our State Capitol is the most misogynist place I’ve ever worked,” Krueger-Braneky says. (Read about her bill to stop sexual harassment and discrimination here.)
This atrocious behavior in Harrisburg is just one example of widespread misuse of power and misrepresentation in politics. Women have had enough -- 146 are running in Pennsylvania this year, many for the first time.
“A lot of these women did not have political ambition, but this time of crisis is calling to them,” Judy says. “The main rationale for patriarchy has historically been to protect women and children, but patriarchy has failed us. Now women and children - like the courageous high school students calling for stricter gun control - are standing up to take leadership in protecting our communities and our natural environment.”
It’s time to right a historic wrong and bring women into equal power.
To support progressive women running for the state legislature, you can donate to Represent PA here. Meet the endorsed candidates on May 7th, 5:30-7:30pm at Saxby's headquarters, 2300 Chestnut St. And make sure to vote in the primary elections on May 15th.