Nearly one year after the Women's March made headlines as one of the largest single-day demonstrations in U.S. history, female candidates from coast to coast broke new ground on Election Night 2017.
“It was a record-setting year in terms of the number of women who ran, in addition to the number of women who won,” said Seattle political consultant Cathy Allen of The Connections Group.
Allen counted around 30 Washington cities poised to have female mayors next year, including the state’s largest cities: Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver.
“Ninety-two years later, Seattle is about to have another woman mayor!” said Mayor-elect Jenny Durkan on Election Night.
Seattle will also have a super-majority of women on City Council with the election of Teresa Mosqueda, and King County will have its second-ever female Sheriff, Mitzi Johanknecht.
In Olympia, the state legislature is still male dominated, but Washington ranks among the highest in the nation when it comes to women in the state House and Senate. The number grew to 37 percent after last Tuesday.
“I believe what we're going to see is a time when people are going to try to get more done,” said Allen who notes that female lawmakers often display a more collaborative negotiating style and seek to find common ground.
The state Senate's newest member Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, decided to run in part because of the 2016 presidential election. Her race featured two female candidates, a point she acknowledged during her election night speech.
“It was an honor for me to have my first political campaign be against another strong woman of color,” said Dhingra.
Overall in King County, more than 40 percent of the candidates were women, up from the typical average of 30 percent, according to Allen. She also noted that more women ran for posts they don’t usually seek, including Fire Commissioners, Water Districts, and Utility Districts.
“I think a lot of those women were in the actual women's march,” said Allen of the increased number of candidates. “I think a lot of them had looked at each other and said, 'Why not you? Why don't you run?'”
She also noticed more women supporting other women this year, either with votes, donations, or volunteers. It’s a trend she hopes will continue, as women in politics try to move up the ranks and break the glass ceiling so many thought would be broken last year.
“I'm looking at the fact that we finally have a back bench,” said Allen.