Women’s role in local politics focus of forum | SierraSun.com

Women’s role in local politics focus of forum

There are still some “1950s men in 2002 clothing” in the North Tahoe and Truckee region’s political arena, and it’s been the experience of some women in the area that men are threatened by their role in local politics.

“There’s never been any kind of backlash. I’ve never been put to the outside because I’m a woman,” said Truckee Town Councilwoman Maia Schneider of her political experience in a male-dominated political field, adding simply that some men are threatened by women as political leaders.

Schneider, is a former mayor of Truckee and sole woman on the Town Council. She’ll be part of a six-woman panel discussing women’s roles in politics in Kings Beach Friday at the North Tahoe Conference Center from 2-4 p.m. The panel discussion, “Women in Politics: looking back and moving forward,” is sponsored by Tahoe Women’s Services as a part of March’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

“It’s a good way to celebrate women’s history,” said Michelle Ostrander, Tahoe Women’s Services executive director. “We want to let people know who’s out there and why, and how they can get involved.”

The panel features a group of women in leadership roles throughout the North Tahoe, Truckee and Northern Nevada region.

Other panelists are Wanda Batchelor, vice chairwoman of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, Mary Wiberg, executive director of the California State Commission on the Status of Women, Theresa May Duggan, a member of the Sierra Business Council and political activist, Stefanie Olivieri, owner of Cabonas Clothing and a political activist as well, and Suzanne Ramos, a victim advocate with the Reno City Attorney’s office.

“Even if one woman hears us, it’s a win,” Schneider said of Friday’s panel.

Tahoe Women’s Services staffers Cris Hennessey, Amy Israel and Trisha Louie started the effort to put a political discussion panel together after reading a story in the Sierra Sun in January about women in Truckee’s political scene.

Duggan, a Kings Beach area resident, grew up with politics in her life but stepped away from that arena and ran her own catering business. Tired of catering, Duggan got out of the business about 12 years ago and got involved in local politics.

She’s campaigned for political candidates, school bonds and most recently she campaigned for Measure C, the 2 percent Transient Occupancy Tax renewal.

Duggan specializes in grass roots politics and will be speaking about how to fine-tune messages and doing person-to-person campaigning.

“There are so many wonderful opportunities out there,” she said. “Communities benefit when people get involved.”

Fellow panelist Ramos has been in the legal field since 1988 and now works as a victim advocate in the Reno City Attorney’s office. She’s also involved with Planned Parenthood, Nevada Hispanic Services, and VivZ El Arte Del Nevada, an organization that promotes Latino art in the community.

For Ramos, “there are not enough women in politics,” she said. She plans to speak about how one’s private life suddenly becomes public when running for office.

Once someone decides to run for office, “your life is out, it’s not private anymore,” she added.

Schneider sees Friday’s panel discussion as a positive experience.

“Anytime there’s an opportunity to get out there and talk to women about politics, it’s a good thing,” she said.

Now serving her fifth year on the council, Schneider said she didn’t know what she was getting into when she first ran for public office.

“It’s been a hugely maturing experience,” she said, adding that even though there have been dark sides to some issues, her time in local politics has been very positive.

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