Let’s Dance for a Good Cause
Lisa Ingarfield | @tritodefi
The game has changed broads, and we need to support political candidates earlier in the process if we really want to see more women, people of color, and members of the LGBTIQ community elected to office. Only then will we have a legislature truly representative of everyone in the great state of Colorado. The good news is, a few of our local reps are thinking carefully about how to make this happen. The better news is, one such effort involves gettin’ your groove on.
Thursday evening, at the Prodigy Coffeehouse in northeast Denver, you’ll have a chance to dance your socks off and support greater diversity in public office. Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver District 8) is hosting a fundraiser for her Leadership Fund.
Herod’s Leadership Fund is different from all the other leadership funds in Colorado. Her fund supports women and in particular, women of color, LGBTIQ candidates, and candidates who are allies to marginalized communities in Colorado. In fact, Herod’s Leadership Fund is the only fund in Colorado with the stated purpose of helping candidates from these identity groups. The fund provides financial support to candidates for the primaries, which is where, Herod argues, candidates really need the assistance. Early support for progressive candidates, and candidates from marginalized communities, is critical to their success. Often, candidates running in the primaries are left out in the cold, and receive little to no institutional support, leading to high attrition rates for local, representative, candidates. Herod’s Leadership Fund seeks to rectify this problem.
How does Herod find candidates to support through her Leadership Fund? Many seek her out. As one of the few women of color legislators in the state, many women candidates especially will seek her out for support and guidance. She also travels the state to learn about individuals looking to run for office in their local communities. She wants to help and to make a difference in their campaign. In a political system that often rewards candidates who have the most money and do not bring diverse agendas to the capitol, Herod sees an important gap to be filled. And it is in the primaries where those candidates need the most support so they can gain a foothold and a platform for their voice and agenda.
For Herod, a Leadership Fund such as hers is critical because in most cases, women candidates face more opposition in their primaries and are challenged much more frequently than their male counterparts. State legislatures nationally are still dominated by white men, and Colorado is no different. In fact, while the number of women elected to state legislatures has increased steadily over the last forty years, women are still woefully underrepresented at the state level (25% representation versus 51% of the US population).
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), progress for African American legislators (of all gender identities) has stalled since 2009, and Latinx legislators still only represent five percent of all state legislators, but represent 17% of the US population. If you are interested to learn more about the composition of Colorado’s state legislature, and state legislatures nationwide, NCSL has a handy dandy interactive graphic you can explore. Colorado, while one of the leading states for the percentage of women legislators, it still is not at 50% representation for women which would mirror its population. Colorado’s state legislature is also almost exclusively white, at 83%.
These statistics underscore why Herod’s Leadership Fund is so important for aspiring legislators that identify as women, women of color, and members of the LGBTIQ community. And, if you are an ally, then Herod’s fund will support you, too. However, candidates who identify as allies to marginalized communities must have taken public action, Herod says. It isn’t enough to claim allyship if there is no action behind your words. There is a lot of talk in progressive circles, and what our communities need more than talk, is concrete action. Herod looks for candidates who have taken a stand, and will continue to take a stand throughout their political career.
If you want to learn more about Herod’s Leadership Fund, or maybe you just want to dance the night away for a cause, then join Herod and others for the Do Your Dance Party event on September 14th. The ticket cost is $35 and all proceeds go to the Leadership Fund. Your entire family is welcome and Herod says “come ready to dance!”