Dear Senator Darrell Steinberg:


Recruit Women

Dear Senator Darrell Steinberg,

Recruiting women is the answer. Recruit to fill open seats with progressive women. Ask legislators who are terming out to recruit talented women as successors. When there are enough women to do it, women will change the culture in Sacramento.

Studies show women legislators are attentive to ethics, and advocate for transparency and inclusiveness. Just the antidote the Legislature needs.

Thank you,


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First Steps: Questions for Potential Candidates

By Janet Cook

election clip
Good for you – you’re thinking of running.
Women make an enormous difference in the state legislature; just imagine the thrill of being able to solve an education, environmental, social justice or economic problem for the entire state.

Deciding to run is rarely an overnight decision; we like to think of it as an exploration.

For clarity and efficiency, think about these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?  For whom?
  • Is the state legislature the best or only way to do that?
  • Do I know my community?  Does my community know me?
  • Who is my posse? Who has the regard of the community who will publicly support my effort?

To dive deeper, here are more topics to consider.


Location, location, location:

    1. Identify the political districts in which you live.  Is your Assemblymember new or about to retire?  Is there an obvious successor to your State Senator?  Is it the tradition in your area that state legislators come from locally elected officials with experience or from some other source?


    1. Listen to our Webinar to get the perspective of top recruiters and the factors they consider when choosing a candidate including a district’s vote history, trends and demographics.

If you are just getting started:

    1. Read a good book about running for office, such as Rebecca Sive’s “Every Day is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House.”


    1. Join an organization, if you haven’t already, that supports women candidates  – see our list of Allies and Organizations committed to gender parity in politics.


    1. Volunteer on a political campaign!

Delve into our website: is filled with information you will find on no other website.  Our campaign recruits talented, progressive women to run for winnable, open seats in the CA legislature. While we focus exclusively on the CA legislature, some of our resources will be helpful to people considering races at other levels, such as City Council or County Supervisor or the U.S. Congress.

    1. Review the About Us tab. This section will clarify what close the gap CA can do with prospective candidates for the CA legislature as they explore the possibility of running. Note, we can only work with a candidate before she files to run.


    1. Read the Candidate Profile, which describes common attributes of successful female legislators, such as activists with roots in their communities. Plus, check out the skill sets we’d love to see more of, such as social entrepreneurs and thought leaders.


    1. Invest some serious time reviewing and thinking about the questions on the Candidate Questionnaire. You’ll be amazed at how it can inform your exploration and future planning.


    1. Feel free to Contact Us at close the gap CA with further questions.

Keep exploring!

Fun Facts About Our Tour Speakers

Join us March 8-11 and you’ll get to meet these inspiring leaders. Learn how to “Stop the Slide” in the number of women serving in Sacramento. RSVP now:

rebecca sive

Rebecca Sive, Author

  • Will be at all 4 “Stop the Slide” tour events
  • Wrote “Every Day is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House”
  • Like President Obama, she’s been an organizer in Chicago
  • Based in Chicago


Los Angeles



Senator Holly Mitchell, Los Angeles

  • Former nonprofit leader
  • Elected to Assembly in 2010
  • Won an easy election to the CA Senate last year
  • The Legislature’s “go to” policymaker on protecting the safety net and finding paths out of poverty
  • At her September 2013 swearing in, she noted, “I will be the first black woman (to serve in the Senate) in over 10 years and I am going to wear that badge with honor”



Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, Santa Barbara

  • Educator & small business owner
  • Elected to Assembly in 1998, served until 2004, elected to State Senate in 2012
  • Lost a race for Senate seat before she won it
  • Championed paid-family leave→
  • Wrote the USA’s first-ever state measure to encourage gender-representation on corporate boards of publicly held companies. Thanks to her, CA now encourages, “equitable and diverse gender representation on corporate boards”



Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, Fullerton

  • Elected to Assembly in 2012, beating an incumbent Republican man
  • Former mayor of Fullerton, population 135,000
  • A former classroom teacher, she says she’s a proud product of public education (Fullerton College, UCLA, Cal State Fullerton)



Moderator Karriann Farrell Hinds

  • Lawyer and activist  
  • Officer in LA Women’s Political Committee
  • Spends spare time with ACLU-SC affiliate (rooting out injustice across the land) and the NWPC LA Westside chapter (pursuing gender equality in politics)
  • Family ties: her uncle served on the LA City council


San Diego


Christine Kehoestripe

Senator Christine Kehoe (retired), San Diego

  • San Diego’s first openly gay elected official
  • Elected to Assembly in 1993, served until to 2004
  • Served in State Senate from 2004 to 2012
  • Chaired Senate Appropriations Committee


Nora Vargasstripe

Nora Vargas

  • VP, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest
  • Governing Board Member at Southwestern Community College District
  • Board Member of close the gap CA


Barbara Brystripe

Moderator Barbara Bry

  • Founded Run Women Run
  • An early social media adapter for organizing political women
  • Self-described “serial entrepreneur”
  • Just named Woman of the Year by Senator and Speaker-to-be Toni Atkins for her district


San Francisco



Carmen Chu, Assessor-Recorder for the city and county of San Francisco

  • Former Supervisor known for her financial acumen
  • Mentor with clout: Her Board staffer succeeded her into office
  • Was a budget analyst appointed to the Board of Supervisors



Sophie Maxwell, Former Supervisor, San Francisco

  • Longtime environmental justice activist
  • From a prominent SF political family
  • Continues to advocate for environmental justice, clean energy and children’s health and educational programs



Moderator Pat Gillette

  • VP Kensington Police Protection & Community Services District
  • Lawyer
  • Co-chair, Bar Association of San Francisco’s No Glass Ceiling Initiative


Palo Alto



Susan Hammer, Former Mayor, San Jose

  • Served CA’s 3rd largest city from 1991 to 1999
  • Ushered the first wave of tech companies into San Jose
  • Devoted to Stanford women’s basketball


mary hughes

Mary Hughes, founder, close the gap CA

  • Longtime Democratic strategist
  • Sees open seats as one of the best opportunities to elect women
  • Once served as advisor to a British playwright writing on American politics



Moderator Lisa Van Dusen

  • Member, Woman’s Club of Palo Alto
  • Social entrepreneur
  • Former journalist and expert on all things Palo Alto