Last week, a large group of female students at Canyon Del Oro High School had the opportunity to meet and hear from 20 women who are elected officials in Arizona.
CDO held its seventh annual Running and Winning workshop, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson, with the goals of introducing young women to politics, and increasing the number of women running both locally and nationally.
The all-day workshop started with each of the elected officials introducing themselves to the students, explaining a little bit about what they do and what drove them to get into politics. They rotated among small groups, and were asked specific questions.
"We did talk a little bit about local government," Oro Valley Councilwoman Salette Latas said. "I think the students… don't realize what goes on at different levels of government. They were really interested in the kinds of issues that come before a city council."
In their small groups, the girls prepared a U.S. Senate campaign designed around a national issue among the topics of climate change, immigration and charter schools. The students were asked to designate a candidate, a campaign manager, a speechwriter and a publicist. Together they were asked to create a 1-2 minute speech along with a poster containing a slogan and promotional information.
CDO senior Kayla Flannery's group built its Senate campaign around the charter school issue, which she said she didn't know much about earlier in the day.
"It was really interesting to see the different points of view because I have friends who go to charter schools and I would never guess how they are run," Flannery said. "It was an interesting experience to see the other side of it."
Throughout the workshop, organizers hoped the students would strengthen their connections with each other and learn about networking, raise self-trust and self-esteem, and gain a little knowledge on some of the larger issues officials must address.
"It's always nice to know what is going in the world, know the different options and creating my own opinions instead of just listening to others," Flannery said. "I feel like that is what teen-agers do, they band onto someone else's point of view."
Flannery had fun and learned. She thought it was a good opportunity for younger women to see women involved in politics.