Monday, December 10, 2007

NARAL Pro-Choice MD Endorses Roz Pelles

Ariana Kelly, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, sent in the following:

NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland is proud and honored to endorse Rosalyn Pelles for the District 18 vacancy left by Del. Jane Lawton’s death. Roz has all the characteristics and experience necessary to carry on Jane’s legacy in Annapolis, and to continue her work of moving our state forward on the issues of civil and women’s rights that were so important to Jane, and continue to matter for D18 residents, Montgomery County Democrats, and to NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland members across the state.

Roz Pelles brings decades of experience, established strong relationships, thoughtfulness and creativity. We are confident that Montgomery County Delegation and District 18 will benefit from Roz’s experience across the board on all issues, from the Purple Line, to health care reform.

But for the women’s rights community, Roz’s appointment is critical. She is the leader we need in Annapolis. In 2006, Montgomery County lost a number of extraordinary women leaders to retirement or defeat. After the 2006 elections, the number of women legislators in Maryland dropped by 10%. In 2007, Maryland’s House of Delegates has lost three great women from the Montgomery County Delegation. The Democratic Central Committee selected men to replace Del. Marilyn Goldwater and Former Del. (now Senator) Nancy King. We recognize this is in some cases due to the scarcity of qualified women willing to run. That is certainly not the case in this race.

Roz Pelles is an experienced leader, a great woman, and an exceptional candidate. She would also be the first African American woman ever in Montgomery County’s legislative delegation. And she would undoubtedly stand up for the rights of all women in a male dominated political climate where women’s issues are all too often pushed aside for the “greater good”. The pro-choice community has noticed this trend with the failure of the much needed EC bill in 2005, and the continued shortage of funding for family planning services.

For this and many other reasons, the hemorrhaging of female leadership in Annapolis must stop. I urge the Central Committee to lead the way by appointing Roz Pelles to fill Jane’s vacancy. Women make up 59 % of the registered Democrats in Montgomery county. Women also turn out to vote in general elections at higher rates than men, making up 54% of the actual voters. These women voters want to see more women elected, which is why in Montgomery County, 64% of women who ran for office in 2006 were elected (compared with 43% of men).

For these reasons alone, Montgomery County should be a state leader on electing women. We have been falling behind not because of the will of the voters, but because the Democratic Central Committee has selected men to fill vacancies left by women. Our House delegation is now 29% female, below even the state average of 33%, still nowhere near parity. Thank goodness Roz came forward, willing to dedicate her talents and experience to serve District 18. It would be terribly remiss for the Central Committee to overlook such an exceptionally qualified female candidate when replacing our dear feminist friend Jane.