SANDPOINT — It was a wet, snowy day on Saturday for the North Idaho Women’s March, but that didn't stop the hundreds of community members who came out for the event.
The theme of this year’s march, “First She Walked, Then She Ran,” was meant to encourage women to run for office. This brought Rep. Paulette Jordan to Sandpoint as the keynote speaker for the event. Jordan, 38, is serving her second term in the Idaho House of Representatives. She is a Democratic nominee for Idaho governor and a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.
When asked by a community member why she decided to run for office, Jordan responded, “Because I love Idaho.”
“I was born and raised here,” Jordan said. “I feel like if you truly love the place where you are raised, where you’re from, you will do anything that you can to protect it.”
Additional speakers during the rally, which was held at Sandpoint Middle School before the group began their march through the streets of west Sandpoint, included Rebecca Schroeder, a Coeur d’Alene candidate for state representative; Emily Strizich, Reclaim Idaho; Kate McAlister, president of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce and a previous candidate for state representative; and a representative from the Sandpoint High School Human Rights Club.
Prior to the main event, a meet and greet was held with Jordan in the lounge at Trinity at City Beach. The Daily Bee caught up with Jordan during the morning meet and greet to ask a few questions regarding the theme of Saturday's event.
What are some of the biggest challenges for a woman in office?
Having confidence to run. Taking the time, whether it's away from work of their families, and knowing that they can do this job with the utmost capability ... For women, we are tied to our work, we are tied to our children, we are tied to the community, so it's not as easy for us to get up and leave to go to a state house, far from where we live. And then it is another responsibility — it’s a major responsibility — that requires your time and commitment for a long stretch of the year. But I think, ultimately, when women realize they are able and more than capable to take on these roles of legistlative responsbility, or being a councilwoman or mayor, or even governor, we have a lot of folks behind us because they know that women are good decision-makers. Women are compassionate, they have empathy, they are very strong in executive roles ... One of our greatest strengths is we listen to the people.
What are some of the biggest rewards for a woman in office?
I would say one of the biggest rewards is to see the improvements in your community. For me, the biggest reward is to see the improvement in my state, the state that my children will inherit. My position has been Idaho first, Idaho always. Because when it comes down to you prioritizing what is best for everyone ... you will see improvements by way of how much you care about every single function of Idaho — from tourism to education to healthcare, to our entire ecomomy at large, to our ecosystem — you have to show the utmost diligence and ensure that the sytems of governance, the functions within it, are working in tandem, working together to ultimately improve the system as best as possible.
What would your advice be to a woman who plans to run for office?
Definitely talk to people first. Talk to your family. Make sure that if you have children, if you have a spouse, that everyone is supportive. Make sure that they are taken care of, because these are the people you leave behind when you go to the capital. You have to ensure that everyone is OK. And then you have to lay out your vision for the community. Talk to everyone. Talk to veterans, talk to students, talk to the elderly, talk to business owners. You have to build a collective voice and that is how you develop your strategy, how you develop your mission and vision, to be a good leader for the community. You don’t just run for office, you run to be a leader. You don’t want to be a politician, you want to be a leader. So when I impart messages to other young women, I will tell them before you run, make sure you know all the issues in your community. You have to know the issues, because you have to know how to fix them. You want to be a functional, impactful leader.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.