No votes have been cast yet, but this year’s election is already shaping up to be historic. Women are running for office in record numbers at all levels of government.
Lori Lennon of Arlington is running for state representative. Like many other women, she’s a candidate for the first time.
“It was just a perfect storm,” explained the communications specialist. “It happened at the right time. I am ready to run. I’ve got lots of good ideas I want to run on, and it’s just become part of this movement.”
That movement was launched right after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. A record number of women marched around the country. It was a show of empowerment that quickly became a call to action.
“There’s a real urgency among women that they can’t wait and now is the time to step up and serve their communities,” said Amanda Hunter of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation which is based in Cambridge.
For the past two decades, the foundation has advocated for women candidates, and this year, they see a real opportunity.
“We found that voters are fed up with the status quo and see women as different, and see a vote for women as a vote for change a way to shake up the political system,” explained Hunter.
Congressman woman Niki Tsongas is retiring this year, but she’s encouraged to see five women in the race to replace her.
When asked if she had any advice for female candidates, she said, “I can’t say there’s one way to do this. I do think it’s important to understand to understand the obstacles that women have had historically, and to understand them, as to overcome them.”
So far, 336 women have announced their intention to run for Congress.
Hunter said there are definitely challenges that men don’t face on the campaign trail.
“Voters will vote for a man that they don’t like, but they believe is qualified, but they will not vote for a woman if they don't like her," Hunter said. "A woman must win voters over and make them like her.
Lennon says she plans to focus on issues that cut across gender, like technology, affordable housing and transportation.
“There are a lot of women running, but I am more than just a woman running,” Lennon said.
The Massachusetts primary is scheduled for September 4th. Voters have until August 15th to register.