By Anastazja Kolodziej
Four speakers at the “Women in Politics Panel” at this university shared advice and encouraged women to run for office Wednesday, Oct. 4.
The panel consisted of four women who had formerly or were currently serving as elected officials. It featured two Republicans, former U.S. Rep. Connie Morella and Maryland House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County), and two Democrats, former Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur, and Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Member Sarah Wolek.
The panelists advised the audience that, in order to break into the field of politics, women have to be willing to take risks.
“You can never win anything unless you’ve gone through some losses,” Morella said. “No guts, no glory.”
She pointed out that nearly every panelist, including herself, had lost an election at some point in their careers. Morella herself ran unsuccessfully for a seat at the Maryland House of Delegates in 1974.
“You gotta lose a couple times. But you know what the losing does?” Wolek said. “It gets your name out there.”
Mizeur also echoed this sentiment.
“We as women too often self-sabotage. We too often have this impostor syndrome, where we fear that if we’re not 100 percent perfect at it… then we could never possibly be selected to do this great and powerful thing,” Mizeur said. “Get over that.”
Mizeur urged the female audience members to run for public office, regardless of their political affiliation.
“I don’t care what your position is or what your politics are,” Mizeur said. “I care that you are a good human, I care that you want to make a difference in your community and that you’re going to model effective citizen engagement.”
However, Szeliga warned that supporting women does not mean women always have to agree with each other.
“We’re not monolithic. We all have different opinions, and that’s okay,” Szeliga said.
She also agreed with the nonpartisan message Mizeur espoused, even regarding their own friendship.
“We get along quite well… she’s a Democrat, I’m a Republican, and probably on a lot of principal issues we are this far apart…” Szeliga said, demonstrating the distance with her arms.
“Or further!” Mizeur interrupted, spreading her arms even further, laughing.
Despite all being on friendly terms, the panelists agreed that structural issues, such as gerrymandering, and recent events, such as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, have polarized our country more than ever before.
“I think our country has lost,” Morella said about increasing polarization.
The panel was moderated by professor Stella Rouse. It was organized by the Department. of Government and Politics and the Center for American Politics & Citizenship.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anastazja Kolodziej, Bloc Reporter.
Anastazja Kolodziej is a sophomore journalism and classics major and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.