Capitol Alert

Women push for more female candidates in California

Today is International Women's Day, and the day has added significance in California in light of the ongoing sexual harassment scandals at the Capitol and across the state.

Two groups that have played a prominent role in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Women's March Sacramento and the California Legislative Women's Caucus, are hosting a rally for International Women's Day on the west steps of the Capitol starting at 10 a.m.

Rally organizers say a prominent theme of the day is supporting women candidates for political office in California and changing a culture of sexual harassment at the Capitol that led nearly 150 women to publish an open letter last October denouncing the treatment they have faced in state politics.

Participants in the rally are encouraged to wear red and black to honor International Women's Day and the movements against sexual harassment and assault, said Jessica Browning, co-chair of Women's March Sacramento. More than 300 people have registered to attend the rally so far, Browning added.

Speakers at the rally will include Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, Tamika L'Ecluse, who is running for Sacramento City Council and Tracie Stafford, an Elk Grove mayoral candidate. Browning said more than 300 people have registered to attend the rally so far.

"(The rally) is very timely," Browning said. "We still need to bring a spotlight to these issues, and we want to promote women running for office and hear from them and center their voices."

Women's March Sacramento will also host a mixer this evening where attendees can meet local women running for various political offices. Candidates at the mixer will include Regina Bateson and Jessica Morse, who are competing for the Democratic nomination in the hotly contested 4th Congressional District race to unseat Republican Rep. Tom McClintock.

The mixer is from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at The Firehouse Restaurant, 1112 2nd Street. Tickets are available here.

Since January, when an estimated 36,000 people took part in the Sacramento Women's March, Browning said it has been hard to keep up and deal with the amount of prominent issues surrounding sexual harassment, gun violence and immigration.

"The good news is people are definitely energized and mobilizing for action," Browning said.

However, Browning said much work remains to be done. The #MeToo movement in California hit a speed bump when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, in February. Garcia, an outspoken advocate of the #MeToo movement, was chair of the legislative women's caucus, a position Eggman now holds.

Garcia is on a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence while the Assembly investigates sexual misconduct claims against her.

Another ongoing hurdle facing women in California is the pay disparity in workplaces, Browning said. Personal finance website WalletHub released a report Monday ranking the best and worst states for women across various metrics, and California came in 49th place out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., for median earnings for female workers, adjusted for cost of living.

California also came in 44th place for female unemployment rate. The state fared better in other metrics focusing on education, life expectancy and health care for women and finished 19th in WalletHub's overall rankings.

Source: WalletHub

But the pay gap concerns Browning.

"In my full-time job, I work in the technology sector, and I see the pay disparity in action everyday. It's awful," Browning said. "One of the top solutions to the problem is simply getting more women to run for office. We really are putting all our energy behind that effort this year."

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Billy Kobin: (916) 321-1860, @Billy_Kobin