In a state where very few women hold legislative offices, a new candidate training group is trying to change things in South Carolina.
This class of 27 women from nine counties will receive up to 70 hours of in-depth campaign training that will “give them the tools to win,” according to a press release by the organization. During the training, the candidates get the opportunity to connect with a wide variety of elected female officials.
“We know from our recruitment and selection season that 2020 is going to be a landmark year, Melissa Watson, Emerge South Carolina Executive Director said. “We had an amazing pool of applicants following our 2019 wins. Some have questioned if the 2018 Year of the Woman was a moment or a movement. It’s actually neither – 2020 is going to mark a new era that will elect a leadership that reflects our communities across the state.”
Emerge is a national organization that started training women to run for office 2002. More than 475 women who have completed Emerge training are currently serving in elected positions across the U.S.
According to the organization’s website, South Carolina ranks 43rd in the nation for women serving state legislatures with just four women serving on the 46-person state Senate and 23 of the 124 in the state house. This means only 14 percent of our state lawmakers are women.
South Carolina hasn’t elected a congresswoman since Liz Patterson in the early 1990s. Molly Spearman, superintendent of education, is the only woman currently holding a statewide office.
“Our government doesn’t have nearly enough women serving in it. I hope my classmates and I will go on to become South Carolina’s next generation of female political leaders.”
The Emerge South Carolina Class of 2020 includes:
Charly Adkinson, Summerville
Celia Ballou, Charleston
Gretchen Barron, Blythewood
Shakeima Chatman, Charleston
Demi Clark, Fort Mill
Jennifer Clyburn Reed, Columbia
Sarah Dant, Greenville
Michelle Drayton, Columbia
Bajeyah Eaddy, Mauldin
Janice Gist, Wellford
Timicia Grant, Greenville
Tina Herbert, Columbia
Catherine Kennedy, Columbia
Kat Martin, Mt. Pleasant
Amanda McDougald Scott, Greenville
Natanya Miller, North Charleston
Quanisea Moses, Effingham
Candace Pattman, Columbia
Helen Pendarvis, Duncan
I’isha Pinckney, Mt. Pleasant
Mary Ellen Player, Lake City
Leslie Skardon, Charleston
Tori West, Columbia
Annie Williams, Orangeburg
Dee Bell Williams, Columbia
Tonya Winbush, Anderson
Mary Wright, Greenville
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].