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Women rule in Californias heart
Voters send all female legislators to Sacramento

Two Assembly districts. One California Senate Seat. The heart of California’s conservative Central Valley. 

And it’s represented all by – women?

Yes. Roughly 10 percent of all of the women that comprise the California legislature represent the fertile little plot of land that includes Manteca, Modesto, Stockton, Ripon, Lathrop and Escalon. And they’re working together to try and breakup the logjam that has for years plagued Sacramento politics. 

Party-lines may differ. Stockton’s Susan Talamantes Eggman is an Assembly Democrat and state senator Cathleen Galgiani is in the same corner as opposed to the conservative views that Modesto Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen campaigned on. 

Collectively, however, the trio is near completion of a landmark piece of legislation that would renovate existing barracks at the Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop and transform the outdated facility into a National Guard-sponsored military academy. It would be the first in the state north of San Luis Obispo, and would provide an opportunity for rigid, regimented instruction for upwards of 400 youth.

According to the Associated Press, the cloakrooms of the State Capital have become more male over the course of the last decade. Women, in 2006, accounted for 37 of the 120 legislative positions in Sacramento. That number has fallen to only 32 today. 

There are currently only six other women serving Northern California communities in the California Assembly – Susan Bonilla (Concord), Joan Buchanon (San Ramon), Nora Campos (San Jose), Beth Gaines (Granite Bay), Nancy Skinner (Oakland) and Mariko Yamada (Woodland). Besides Galgiani, only four other women represent Northern California contingencies in the State Senate – Ellen Corbett (Fremont), Noreen Evans (Santa Rosa/Ukiah), Loni Hancock (Oakland), and Lois Wolk (Napa).

 “It’s been an idea that we’ve been pushing for a long time – it was hard for women to get interested in voting, and if we can get them interested in voting then it starts the process of getting them interested in becoming candidates as well,” said San Joaquin County League of Women Voters’ President Dee Matteucci. “We encourage women to get involved. And once they’re involved, they can see that it’s not impossible after all, now is it?”

So just how important is it for the average female voter to know that there are women tackling the same jobs that the men are?

Sarina Barbosa said that while she’s still relatively new to the political arena, knowing that women have the same opportunities in an area like the Central Valley gives her hope for her young daughter and the footholds that she’ll already have when takes off to climb the mountain. 

Barbosa said that she can look at the Manteca City Council, as it is currently made up, and see a woman sitting in a position that affects people on the local level. Her mother, she said, told her that the town’s first directly elected mayor was in fact a woman. 

She’s referencing Trena Kelley who not only was Manteca’s first elected mayor but also the first woman to serve on the City Council. Current Vice Mayor, Debby Moorhead is the fifth woman to serve on the Manteca City Council.

“When you think of the people that are elected, a lot of the time it’s not women – that’s just a fact,” she said. “They say it’s a man’s world. Well, here we have these ladies that are doing something different. And I think that’s amazing.”