Ginny Deerin wants South Carolina voters to eat more vegetables, metaphorically speaking.
In other words, they should try to elect more women to public office.
Deerin is co-founder of Project XX (double X) SC along with Skirt! publisher Nikki Hardin, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that promotes getting qualified women elected and appointed to key positions in the state.
“You know it’s good to eat a balanced meal,” she said, “you’ve got to pay attention to it: ‘Do I have vegetables?’” To Deerin, that’s the same approach we should take with government. “If you believe that diversity is good and diverse viewpoints and experience are good to have at the table you have to pay attention to it like you have to pay attention to, are you eating enough vegetables.”
To that end, Project XX SC has posted a list of 25 women running for elected office in Tuesday’s municipal elections in the tri-county area.
They don’t endorse candidates; in fact, the top of the web page includes this admonition: “…we do not have the resources to vet them all — so check them out yourselves so that you can make informed decisions!”
And that’s one of their driving forces—encouraging people to become more informed about their choices so that when they do step up to the voting machine, they might find a woman is the right choice for a particular office.
Of course, local elections are often associated with low turnout, and often strongly favor the incumbent.
Which is exactly why voters should consider making a change, Deerin said.
“When you get to a situation where all things are equal—you have two candidates you feel are good—my opinion is when things are so out of balance, you should vote for the woman, if generally speaking, you believe that balance on a board is good.”
And it’s these local elections where women need to fill the bench, as it were. Local utility boards and local municipal governments provide great entry points and training grounds, and also could be great stepping stones. It’s worked that way for men, after all.
The best person
Part of Deerin’s role is simply asking women whether they’ve considered running for office. In talking with roughly 50 women, “I would say about 20 percent of them said ‘No. It’s something would never do.’”
But that means the other 40 women said they’d consider running for office. “Now we just need to make sure that we can get them information about elections or leadership boards, etc. and just keep them thinking about it, how important it is.”
Deerin said that people often cling to the rationale that they’re voting for “the best person for the job.” Deerin and Project XX want people to at least be aware that it’s entirely possible the best candidate may be A) not the incumbent and B) a woman.
So when people say they’re voting for the best person for a board that has few or no women and yet never consider voting for anybody but an incumbent male, “I guess if you believe it doesn’t matter, then you can just keep doing that.”
But she hopes you won’t.