It doesn’t seem like so long ago that I was sitting at a desk in school and had to write an essay about a public figure whom I admired. Even as a young girl, I couldn’t help but notice that the vast majority of leaders featured in school textbooks were people who didn’t look like me. From the founding fathers and the first 43 presidents to Steve Jobs, it became painfully clear that history primarily celebrated the accomplishments of white men. The contributions of everyone else were either downplayed or recognized only during a single month of the year.
While the current racist inhabitant of the White House reminds us how far we still have left to go, it’s gratifying to see accomplished women and people of color from various backgrounds running for leadership roles in the City of Seattle. In this impressive field of local candidates, Teresa Mosqueda particularly stands out to me.
Every single day, women of color in leadership roles are told to consider running for office. Yet when they finally decide to run, they face tougher scrutiny and continually have their qualifications and experience questioned.
Teresa Mosqueda is an accomplished 3rd generation Mexican American who has spent the last decade fighting for improved health outcomes and economic justice for workers. Mosqueda sat on the state board that oversaw the statewide implementation of Obamacare and fought for health insurance for undocumented-immigrant children at the Children's Alliance. At the Washington State Labor Council, Mosqueda continually pushes for more funding for the Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement in Seattle because one of her top priorities is to stop sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. But what truly sets her apart in this race is her fearless leadership of a program to encourage workers, women, and people of color to run for public office within their community.
Beyond her resume and public policy expertise, Mosqueda is uniquely qualified for city council because of the perspectives and values she brings to the table. Like many progressive female candidates who have come before her, Mosqueda refuses to apologize for what she stands for and takes pride in her work to address the systematic forces of oppression. Together, these experiences form a valuable lens through which she will identify the solutions to our city’s challenges.
Yet even in 2017 in a progressive city like Seattle, female candidates still run into the headwinds of misogyny. Despite – or because of – Mosqueda’s values and track record of standing up for underrepresented communities across the state, she has consistently faced questions and extra scrutiny in her campaign for city council.
When The Seattle Times editorial board misrepresented her professional accomplishments in their endorsement of her opponent, women across the region stood in solidarity with Mosqueda and fought back. In an open letter, more than 400 fellow progressive women and allies in leadership stood up for Mosqueda and the countless other women who have had their professional achievements overlooked or credited to a male colleague. This is exactly the kind of show of force we need to flip the tables at the political boys club and make it clear that we’re not going to sit silent any longer.
I’m hopeful that one day our society can recognize how racism and misogyny work together to impact women of color who challenge the status quo and run for office. Until that day, we must stand united in our efforts to elect leaders who are representative of the communities they serve, starting with Teresa Mosqueda.
- Ashley Myrriah is the Communications and Research Specialist at Fuse