When I was a kid growing up in suburban Detroit, I loved to watch my Detroit Tigers play baseball. I couldn’t wait to tune in their games on television or listen to them on the radio. My father, a true sports fan, often took me to see “the Boys of Summer” at the team’s stadium in downtown Detroit.
One year, I even got to attend one of the Tigers’ spring training games in Lakeland, Florida while visiting my grandparents, who lived in a nearby city. I knew that Opening Day of the upcoming season was not far away!
After adolescence, my love of baseball was replaced with an abiding interest in politics, which I studied in college and grad school and also covered for years as a political reporter.
I never was tempted to run for political office myself, but the older I get, the more I realize how important it is for women to make their voices heard in the political arena, for women to step up to the plate and run for political office at the local, state, and national level.
We all want fair representation and fair legislation, a responsive government, a voice in our children’s education. Having more women in public office can help provide these things, but, first, we need to move more women into scoring position.
Indeed, it’s way past time for us to have more “Girls” of Summer – and also Fall, Winter, and Spring – elected to office. In South Carolina, it’s a dire necessity. In terms of legislative representation, we currently rank a dismal 46th in the nation, with only 17 percent of our state’s legislature composed of women and only one woman elected to a statewide position.
In Washington, South Carolina has never sent a woman to represent us in the U.S. Senate. In 2022, there is just one woman in the seven-member House of Representatives delegation, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston). From 1993 until Mace was elected in 2020, in fact, there were no women in our entire Congressional delegation.
In The Palmetto State, most school boards, town councils, city councils, mayoral offices and other local offices are top-heavy with men, too. Time out! We want our turn at bat, too.
The 2022 election cycle, as South Carolina Women in Leadership puts it, is a “whole new ball game,” and WIL is kicking off that cycle by sponsoring an event in Columbia on Feb. 9 called Spring Training: Opening Day. This event will bring together state legislators and women currently holding local public office from across the state, along with women considering running for office or working on a campaign in 2022.
There will be a luncheon at the Columbia Museum of Art opened by Lt. Governor Pamela Evette, the first female Republican Lt.Gov. of S.C. Her remarks will be followed by Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Partners, the national public opinion and political strategy research firm that bears her name,on “What Women Candidates Need to Know”. The afternoon includes a series of sessions including presenting yourself virtually, planning your message, creating a network, and understanding the basics of fundraising.
After the Feb. 9 event, next up at bat throughout February and March will be a series of Ready to Run in-depth training events for women seeking elected office.
No more strike-outs, errors, or foul balls, please. But a lot more grand slams? Absolutely.
Jan K. Collins
Jan Collins is a Columbia, South Carolina-based journalist, author and editor.