By Claire Breen
Defining itself as a leading feminist organization and PAC from the get-go, the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee’s first event was nothing short of exciting. In January 1988 more than 200 people gathered at a local restaurant to hear National Organization for Women co-founder Betty Friedan speak while anti-choice opponents picketed outdoors.
After more than a quarter century, the SBWPC continues to stand out. The nonpartisan organization, which aims to further “gender equality and other feminist values through political and social action, and educational activities,” endorses the candidacies of both women and men.
President Carol Keator notes that it is extremely important to the organization to endorse feminist candidates regardless of gender and party affiliation. The SBWPC does, however, have a couple “deal breakers” when selecting who to endorse; each candidate must be pro-choice and support same-sex marriage.
The SBWPC also favors “the adoption of national child care policy, ending crimes against women, advocating for education equity, strong stewardship and nurturing of our environment, and supporting efforts to attain gender and racial balance in our elected and appointed offices to reflect the community they reflect.”
Since its beginning SBWPC has endorsed over 100 candidates at all levels. Very few of those have failed to win, according to Keator. The SBWPC is especially proud to have endorsed Congresswoman Lois Capps all seven times that she has successfully run for a seat in Congress. Keator explains that Capps has backed significant legislation regarding women and families.
“In Santa Barbara it has become the norm for women to serve in office,” Keator says with pride. She feels that the SBWPC has been a part of creating that norm. Santa Barbara currently has a woman mayor, Helene Schneider, along with many women serving as county supervisors and on city councils, school districts, fire district boards and water boards. Moving forward, the SBWPC seeks to renew the focus on electing feminists into office where they can make progressive policy.
For feminist women and men interested in running for office, the SBWPC offers campaign skills trainings, consultation sessions, scholarships and sponsorship.
For more information, visit the website.
See the list of close the gap CA’s allies here.