We are looking forward to meeting up on Thursday, October 7, for our Fall Social. The Honorable Betsy Markey will be our special guest. She served as a member of the U.S. Congress from 2009-2011 for District 4. In December 2018, she was named Executive Director of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade – a post which she held until March of this year.
Our co-host for the Fall Social is Royal Neighbors of America. They are one of the largest women-led insurers in the U.S. and have a special announcement for us. In case you haven’t heard of them, Royal Neighbors has a “unique mission of insuring lives, supporting women, and serving communities that stems from being a fraternal benefit society and an organization with a dual mission of both providing financial protection through life insurance and ‘neighbor-helping-neighbor’ community service.”
We hope you can join us for this informal event where we get to meet elected women officials, women candidates, and other people interested in promoting women’s leadership. There is no admission to the event and there is a cash bar. Donations furthering the work of Colorado 50-50 will be gratefully received.
Details: Date: Thursday, October 7 Time: 5:30-7 PM Place: DC Oakes Brewhouse at 3851 E. Harmony Rd., Fort Collins. We should be on the south patio. Looks like the weather will cooperate! Cost: No admission. You buy your own drinks, appetizers, and/or dinner. Donations to Colorado 50-50 happliy accepted.
In Colorado alone, there are more than 550 elected positions at the county level. These county positions include assessor, clerk and recorder, county commissioner, coroner, treasurer, sheriff, surveyor, and district attorney. New research from Colorado 50-50 shows that overall, there are 218 women and 336 men elected, this puts women at just under 40% of the total count. These percentages and ratios change drastically depending on the position. Please note that this research includes elected officials only (not appointed), which may make it appear there is a discrepancy in numbers of certain positions. Colorado has not achieved our mission of a 50-50 ratio, but the number of women in government positions is trending in a positive direction.
Typically, there are three county commissioners per county, making this the largest overall position. There are 190 commissioners in Colorado, 48 of them being women and the remaining 142 being men (25.3% women, 74.7% men). County commissioners are in charge of budgeting for the county, overseeing organization, and levying taxes. This is considered the highest position in the county, which may be why women have such a low representation in this category. Eva Henry, county commissioner of Adams County, began her political career in 2007, and has been a successful and dedicated public servant ever since.
From my own experience I had to run against the “Old Boys Club.” I was discouraged from the beginning. I was told I didn’t have the experience. That I was too progressive. I couldn’t handle the stress. You need a very strong support system to run for those positions.
Women need to be considered and asked especially for sheriff. Then we need to be prepared to give them the support they need. There will definitely be opposition from their own party. Sheriff is a glass ceiling that has to be broken.
I am lucky enough to serve on a board that has had a majority of women since 2014.
Eva Henry, Adams County Commissioner
County coroners are in charge of investigating certain deaths within the county. This is an elected position in Colorado, and 43 of them being men and 15 being women (or 27.1% women, 72.9% men) does not come close to 50-50 gender parity especially given national statistics of female coroners. Across the United States, 82% of all coroners are women, while about one fourth of elected coroners in Colorado are women.
Each of the 64 counties has an elected county sheriff, with only one of them being a woman (1.7% women, 98.3% men). Her name is Amy Reyes and she is the sheriff of Lake County.
I believe there are several factors which play into why there are not as many women as there are men in positions such as mine. Law enforcement has been a predominantly male field in part because, some of the physical demands to do this job. There has been the stigma where women are not as strong as males therefore, would not perform the same in a situation where physical force is needed. However, women in law enforcement continue to dispel this stereotype. Another factor is law enforcement is a 24/7 career and these types of schedules which often have lots of overtime, make it very difficult to raise a family without a tremendous amount of support from family and friends.
Law enforcement is still constructed on a very military design, for example my position as sheriff holds the same authority as a four star general in the military. Some of our society still holds the stigma that they do not want a woman in power with that much authority because she might make an irrational decision that is based on emotion, because many believe women are emotional creatures who make decisions based on what time of the month it is for us.
Lastly, women in high positions, by my own experience, are looked at as too bitchy, power hungry, the lesbian, the slut, the mother figure for those who need it, before we are looked at as an equal.
Amy Reyes, Lake County Sheriff
County surveyors are in charge of boundaries involving county land and information that is useful for boundary disputes. Only 25 of Colorado’s counties have elected surveyors and of the 25, 4 are women and 21 are men (16.0% women, 84% men). Again, not even remotely reaching gender parity.
County treasurers deal with the taxes that the county collects. Of the 60 elected treasurers in Colorado, 46 are women and 14 are men (76.7% women, 23.3% men). This is a heavily female-dominated position. We asked Larimer County Treasurer Irene Josey to reflect on her experience.
Because our responsibilities are administrative in nature – we are not policy or law makers – and women are seen as excellent thinkers, collaborators and negotiators, we are chosen or elected to fill that role by those that know us well. I have found that women are considered very trustworthy and reliable when it comes to managing money – especially public funds.
Many female Colorado treasurers have a similar background as mine; many have worked for their offices for years before being elected as the treasurer. It’s a job we have learned from doing the tasks and experiencing the team effort it takes to be successful. Most have a history of working in various positions in their respective offices and gained credibility by that experience. They know the functions and duties of property tax collection, public funds investing and the technology needs required for mandatory tax authority distribution. As I look back on my 35 years and I look forward to the challenges to come, I am proud to say it’s an honor and privilege to represent my county and other elected women.
Irene Josey, Larimer County Treasurer
County assessors determine the “actual” market value for properties within their counties. Of the 61 county assessors in Colorado, 34 are female and 27 are male (55.7% women, 44.3% men).
County Clerk and Recorders
The county clerk and recorder is in charge of elections and voter registration, as well as other records and licenses, such as marriage licenses and death certificates. This is a highly female-dominated position, 53 of them being women and 10 being men (84.1% women, 15.9% men).
The counties of Denver and Broomfield do not have the typical county set up, because of the way they were organized under state law. Instead, the city councilors represent the county, making these 21 individuals relevant to the gender parity county count. It is important to note that Denver and Broomfield are two large metro areas, which as past research from Colorado 50-50 shows, has a correlation to having higher numbers of women in government. More specifically, Denver has 13 City Councilors in total, 8 of them being women. Broomfield has 10 City Councilors, 7 of them being women. The total percentages for both counties are 65.2% women and 34.8% men.
District attorneys in Colorado often represent multiple counties. Of the 64 Colorado counties, 22 of them possess district attorneys. The district attorney is the prosecutor of criminal cases and represents the government in criminal offenses. It is unnecessary for every county in Colorado to have a district attorney based on size and need. Of the 22 district attorneys, only 4 are women (18.2% women, 81.8% men).
To accumulate this information, we went to each individual county website in Colorado. This research was compiled in the fall of 2020, meaning these numbers reflect those in the position at that time. We made a solid effort to determine gender based on names. More investigation was done into names that are gender neutral via internet search engines. Based on this method, we were not able to determine if a person was gender non-conforming, nonbinary, or transgender. For these reasons, it is possible some errors were made.
Each position was counted in each county, however, there are variances on the number of positions because not every county has each position. This research only includes elected officials, which results in “missing” officials in counties that appoint certain positions, rather than elect them. The surveyor position is the most drastic, partially due to the lack of interest in the position. It is very low paying and does not obtain the same respect or authority that a treasurer would, for example. Even with the varying numbers in position, every elected surveyor accounted for is in the data.
We at Colorado 50-50 were fascinated to discover the outcomes of the data for representation of women in elected county level positions. Positions that contain more traditionally female roles have higher numbers of women serving, such as treasurer, assessor, and clerk and recorder, while traditionally male roles had lower numbers of women serving, such as county commissioner, district attorney, coroner, and sheriff. Regardless of the position, it is important for women to be included and well represented at every level and in every area of government.
Given current demographics, there should be four members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (or AAPI) community in the Legislature, yet now we have zero! We’re working to change that. Almost a year ago, Colorado 50-50 brought together a group of volunteers specifically interested in seeing more AAPI women in elected office.
Please join us on Saturday, July 17, 10 AM – 12 PM at our Summer Social where you will meet other fabulous people who are interested in promoting AAPI women in leadership!
We will be having coffee and donuts at Quail Creek Park pavilion, 2300 W. 138th Ave., in Broomfield. Suggested $10 donation to cover event costs.
We’re excited to be joined by speakers: * former State Senate President Stan Matsunaka * Erie Town Councilor Sara Loflin * Thornton City Council candidate Kate Miya
Special guests include: * Broomfield Interim Mayor Guyleen Castriotta * Broomfield City Councilor Laurie Anderson
Have fun discussing politics and policy. Meet women elected officials and candidates. Bring your checkbook in case you meet some you would like to support financially. Get connected with people working on campaigns, hear what campaigns are like, and discover volunteer opportunities.
An RSVP via Eventbrite would be greatly appreciated so we order the right number of donuts. Come hang out with us!
Colorado has zero Asian-American and Pacific Islander (or AAPI) people in the Legislature and – if you wanted a number that reflected the population – there should be four. We’re working to change that. Almost a year ago, Colorado 50-50 brought together a group of volunteers specifically interested in seeing more AAPI women in elected office.
Please join us on Saturday, July 17, 10 AM – 12 PM at our Summer Social where you will meet other fabulous people who are interested in promoting AAPI women in leadership! We will be having coffee and donuts at a park pavilion in Broomfield. Location details coming soon. Suggested $10 donation to cover event costs.
Have fun discussing politics and policy. Meet women elected officials and candidates. Bring your checkbook in case you meet some you would like to support financially. Get connected with people working on campaigns, hear what campaigns are like, and discover volunteer opportunities. Come hang out with us!
An RSVP would be greatly appreciated so we can get the right number of donuts!
Recognizing that Colorado ranks 21st on the 2020 Gender Parity Index due to its successes in some areas such as the second highest share of women elected officials in the state legislature and challenges in other areas such as local and federal representation, this event is designed to encourage more women in Colorado to run for elected office, to demystify the process of running and to provide resources for them as they consider running for elected office.
The first session from 4-5 PM features a youth panel to get girls and young women interested in running, including:
State Senator Faith Winter
Former DU Student Body Vice President Jess Davidson
Parker Town Council Candidate Jeeva Senthilnathan
The second session from 5-6 PM is a panel discussion aimed at the general population. Our panelists are:
Congresswoman Diana DeGette
State Representative Iman Jodeh
State Representative Stephanie Luck
Alamosa City Councilor Liz Hensley
The third session from 6-6:30 PM is a networking session where participants will have opportunities to speak in small breakout groups with elected women officials. We hope you will encourage women to attend who should take their next steps in leadership!
Thanks to the generosity of El Pomar, the event is free! Registration is required by Friday, April 23, at noon, so sign up now.
Want to meet other fabulous people who are interested in promoting women in leadership? Sign up now for our online winter social on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, at 6 PM!
Join special guest State Representative Meg Froelich, who is also one of the filmmakers who created the “Strong Sisters” documentary about Colorado women running for office. We invite you to watch the film in advance for free here. We will be discussing it and talking about what has changed since it came out.
We will also do breakout rooms for networking. Meet women elected officials and candidates. Have fun discussing politics. Get connected with people working on campaigns and hear what it is like.
Also, while we don’t have a definite date for our next campaign training, we know that it will cost money to put it on. Your generous donation would be greatly appreciated.
Don’t forget to sign up using EventBrite to get the Zoom link!
Want to meet other fabulous people who are interested in promoting women in leadership? Mark your calendars for our fall social on Wednesday, October 7, from 7-9 PM! Colorado 50-50 is partnering with Wyoming Women’s Action Network. We’re particularly interested in encouraging rural women to attend this gathering as they consider running for town councils and school boards in 2021.
Meet women elected officials and candidates. Have fun discussing politics. Get connected with people working on campaigns and hear what it is like. Suggested $5 donation to support the work of Colorado 50-50. You will also have the opportunity to donate to the Wyoming Women’s Action Network.
Women won 54.5% of school board seats in 2019, higher than the national average
By Erin Hottenstein
In November of odd years, about half of Colorado’s 974 nonpartisan school board seats are up for election. New research from Colorado 50-50 shows that women won 54.5% of school board seats in 2019, higher than the national average.
Does having more women on school boards make a difference? Thompson School District Board President Lori Hvizda Ward of Loveland believes so. “In my personal experience, I’ve found women to be better listeners and more open to seeing opposing viewpoints,” she said. “I think women are more willing to change their mind or position on an issue over time or with new information.”
“The downside of this is that decision making can be slowed down. Women tend to be less authoritarian and more democratic, especially as board leaders,” she continued. “They often are also the peacemakers. These all lead to better decision-making, as does diversity in general.”
From August through November 2019, a total of 479 people participated in the process – they filed as candidates, ran for office, and/or were appointed. Out of those, 314 people took seats on 129 different school boards.
“Won by Acclamation”
One interesting finding was that at least 91 people (46 women and 45 men) “won by acclamation.” That means that there were either just enough candidates or not enough, and so the school board cancelled the election. For example, there were three seats available and three candidates. With no contest, there would be no need to go through the costly process of an election.
It’s likely that the number was actually far higher. Across the state, there are 178 school boards and yet only 129 were represented in data received from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. In several instances, school boards had vacancies even beyond November.
Some women looking to get more involved in their communities might find lower barriers to getting elected to the school board. They might only need a small number of signatures to become candidates, and then find that a campaign is unnecessary if others don’t step up to compete.
Women ran in higher numbers and won at higher rates
Of all the Coloradans who participated in the school board selection process, 255 were women and 224 were men.
Looking at the total number of people who were involved, women won at 26.4% and men won at 20.7%. It is interesting that the other figures are close to even, including the number that won by acclamation (9.8% for women, 9.6% for men) and the number that lost (16.4% for women, 16.6% for men).
If you look only at the pool of contest winners, women won 54.5% of the seats while men won 45.5%. In terms of actual numbers of seats, women won 124 seats and men won 97.
Consuelo Redhorse is a school board member in Summit County. The prior board was all-female and the current board has six women and one man. Redhorse said in her experience women are typically more involved in school events, meetings, and organizations – which could explain why women run for school board in higher numbers.
“[Women] tend to become more familiar with the school culture and environment and maintain more personal relationships with school personnel and other parents who are involved in the school organizations,” Redhorse said. “The relationships and knowledge of what’s going on in the schools make for a good foundation to become involved with the school system on a higher level.”
Front Range vs. Rural
There was a noticeable difference in the win rates for the Front Range versus rural areas. By the Front Range, we’re talking about the urban and suburban corridor around Interstate 25 from Fort Collins south to Pueblo.
Front Range women won almost 62% of the seats, while rural women won about 54% of seats. While both are above the national average for school board members, that’s an eight point difference.
Another issue is the number of seats. Along the Front Range, women won 58 seats and another 17 won by acclamation for a total of 75 seats out of 130 that were available.
However, in rural areas, there are many more districts and board seats. Rural women won 75 seats and took another 20 seats by acclamation for a total of 95 seats out of the 182 seats available. Bear in mind that our study includes all the 49 Front Range districts among the 129, but does not include 49 other rural districts for which we did not have information.
Trying to fill more seats in a less dense population can be a challenge. “It is hard to get any candidates in some of the more rural areas,” Hvizda Ward said. Sometimes “they waive the two-term limit, allow employees to serve, or have people that serve repeated terms after being off for a term or two.”
There is a tremendous opportunity for rural Colorado women to step up to leadership and make a difference in their communities. They can learn more about their local districts by volunteering on something like a parent accountability committee, or by attending school board meetings. Once they decide to run, women will need to circulate a nomination petition, which happens in early August. We hope that women from across Colorado will begin thinking now about running for school board in 2021 and contact us so that we can support them.
About Colorado 50-50 – We are a statewide all-volunteer organization that inspires and trains women to run for office. We also encourage women to apply for boards and commissions, because we want to see gender parity everywhere. Please reach out to us to volunteer or talk about a joint event.
Thanks – Our sincere gratitude goes out to the following volunteers for their help with the research. Data analysis and research – Aili Miyake and Erin Hottenstein. Research – Megan Sanders, Dani Dawes, Micala Khavari, Natalie Hodgman, Laurie Krall, and Tara Eveland.
Methodology – We started with a list of school board candidates from the Colorado Secretary of State’s website. We got the first list after the filing deadlines had passed, but before election day. We got the second list a couple of weeks after the election. Looking at the names, we made our best guess as to the gender of the person. For gender neutral names, we sought more information via internet search engines. Based on this method, we were not able to determine if a person was gender non-conforming, nonbinary, or transgender. For these reasons, it’s possible we made errors.
Then, we sought to determine if the candidate won or lost using the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, county clerks’ websites, school districts’ websites, and online newspaper articles. In some cases, we contacted the school districts for more information. Along the way, we found information about people who had won by acclamation – meaning the school district canceled the election for lack of a contest. We also found appointees and folks who had been candidates, but didn’t register with the Secretary of State.
We divided the counties into Front Range and Rural. Front Range counties include: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Elbert, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Pueblo, Teller, and Weld. Rural counties include the other 51 counties. Toward the end of our project, we realized that there were 178 school districts in existence, but only candidate filings from the Secretary of State’s office for 129 districts. In the interest of time and needing to turn our attention to the 2020 election, we decided we would go with what we had and seek more complete data next time.
Does the thought of getting on a board or running for office seem overwhelming? We will demystify the process! Learn how everyday women just like you are doing it.
Our special guests so far:
El Paso County Commissioner Holly Williams
D-11 School Board Member Mary Coleman
Candidate for U.S. Congress Jillian Freeland
former State House candidate Maile Foster
Join us for our Nearly Spring Social! Come talk politics, and meet elected women officials and women candidates. There’s no admission fee. Drinks and food are available for purchase. Donations will be accepted to further the work of Colorado 50-50.
Location: Coquette’s Bistro, 616 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs.
It’s happening Sunday, January 26, 5-6:30 PM, at Monroe’s Lounge at the Best Western at I-25 and 34 in Loveland.
This is an enjoyable and informal local opportunity to meet people interested in promoting women in leadership, as well as candidates, and elected officials. The event is free with a cash bar. Donations furthering the work of Colorado 50-50 are encouraged and will be happily accepted.
Our special guests include:
State Senator Joann Ginal
State Senator Vicki Marble
State Representative Jeni Arndt
Larimer County Treasurer Irene Josey
Windsor Mayor and candidate for Weld County Commissioner Kristie Melendez
Fort Collins City Councilwoman Julie Pignataro
Estes Park Town Councilwoman Carlie Bangs
Loveland City Councilwoman Kathi Wright
Evans Town Councilwoman Ally Johnson
Thompson School Board Director Lori Hvizda Ward
Candidate for U.S. Senate Lorena Garcia
Candidate for State Representative Holly Herson
Candidate for State Representative Yara Zokaie
Candidate for Larimer County Commission Kim Akeley-Charron
Candidate for Larimer County Commission Jody Shadduck-McNally
By the way, if you are an elected official, former elected official, or candidate, we would love to include you in this event! We will be updating this list here and on social media. Please let us know if you are attending.
We look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday, January 26!