Wanted: More female candidates


Women make up half the population, but not half the elected officials serving on city councils, school boards, the state legislature or Congress.

Run Women Run is a new California Political Action Committee hoping to change that imbalance in San Diego County. The advisory board contains members from Del Mar, Carmel Valley and other local areas.

“The primary focus is to identify, endorse and financially support qualified, pro-choice women running for office in San Diego,” said founder Barbara Bry, a La Jolla resident. “And to have them win.”

Women, and men, are invited to the committee’s inaugural meeting Oct. 19. Congresswoman Susan Davis will moderate a “Progressive San Diego Women Candidates Forum,” featuring several female city council and school board candidates from around the county, including Sherri Lightener and Marti Emerald, who are running for San Diego City Council this November.

The discussion will not simply be about the candidate’s positions, but the issues and challenges facing women running for office.

The meeting will also be an opportunity to get involved with the organization, which is looking for a broad range of individuals willing to take action.

When working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Bry said she met numerous people who never participated in politics before.

“What I wanted to do is create an organization that would keep everyone involved after this election,” Bry said.

Given Bry’s history of success with starting companies and nonprofits, including Proflowers.com, Voice of San Diego and Athena, Run Women Run has serious potential to change the face of San Diego politics.

“It’s all about building the best team,” Bry said, who pulled together an impressive group of women to jumpstart this organization. The 37-member advisory board includes female chief executive officers, financial officers, political leaders and consultants, attorneys and volunteers.

“We’re at a unique time in history to really tap into the strength women have to offer the political process,” said advisory board member Julie Bronstein, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus. “I think we’ll play a vital role in helping women achieve political empowerment, particularly in San Diego.”

Strong leaders do not always step forward, daunted by the process of campaigning, Bry said.

“Women are too hard on themselves in terms of believing they have what it takes to get elected,” Bry said.

Run Women Run hopes to give women that extra boost of confidence by providing a strong support network, which can provide candidates with resources, expertise and emotional support, along with a volunteer corps ready to fundraise and campaign on their behalf.

While non-partisan, the organization stands firm on one issue: women’s reproductive rights.

“I believe everything starts with a woman’s right to choose,” Bry said. “If a woman does not have that right, she has nothing.”

Encouraging more women to serve in public office is not based on a belief that women are superior to men, Bry said. It’s that they bring a different perspective to individual, family and societal issues such as healthcare, education, small business and the environment.

“Women come into office with a broad range of issues that men may not be as willing to carry as vigorously,” said Francine Busby, an advisory board member.

Having run for Congress, Busby knows the importance of an effective support network. Run Women Run is going to make a difference, she said.

“It gives women considering political office some place go,” Busby said. “I think we will see results in the short term having more women run, and in the long term having more women elected.”

The candidate forum will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. at a private residence in Fairbanks Ranch. Tickets are $25 and can be applied toward an annual membership, which costs $100, or $50 for women under 35 or over 65.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Barbara Bry at