Democratic Women's Club revived in Anne Arundel County
March 20--The Democratic Women's Club of Anne Arundel County had been moribund for a decade. The 2016 election and its results triggered its rapid revival.
Sunday afternoon, nearly 150 women and nine men crowded into the meeting hall at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Annapolis to learn how to use the emotional energy generated by the election to achieve positive results.
Organizer Stacy Korbelak is the president of the newly revived club, known as Anne Arundel County Democratic Women.
In her opening comments, Korbelak said a group of women started discussing reactivating the club while watching the presidential debates in September. They thought if Hillary Clinton was in office, they'd want to harness the excitement of locally politically-minded women.
"Little did we know that we'd be politically-minded for entirely different reasons just two months later," she said.
The club was swiftly reorganized with the aid of Delegate Pam Beidle. The crowd gathered Sunday at St. Philip's was there to network and share ideas on staying focused and energized through the November 2018 election cycle and beyond.
A succession of office-holders from the city, county, state and Congress addressed the crowd.
Susan O'Brien, a veteran fundraiser for Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, was stunned by the turnout. "Ninety percent of this audience is new people," she said. "I've never seen them before. It's cool."
She noted most of the audience members did not know who their district, county or state representatives were. To help them find their elected representatives, the event volunteers had placed maps delineating the various districts on tables around the room. As they checked the maps or nibbled on a buffet of light finger foods, the women networked.
The keynote speaker was Martha McKenna, head of Emerge Maryland. Founded five years ago, it is part of Emerge America, a political leadership training program for Democratic women. Other speakers included Beidle, Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, County Councilman Peter I. Smith, State Senator John Astle and Congressman John Sarbanes.
After his speech, Astle, who is planning to run for mayor of Annapolis, said, "The energy in this room, I've never seen anything like this in 35 years of public office.
"Suddenly, these folks are energized. They represent a whole segment of our county -- the women. They need to get elected."
His comments were echoed by other speakers and audience members.
Beidle commented that many women are now planning to run for office at all levels in the county and state. "Out of 12 Anne Arundel County delegates in the State House, only me and Meagan Simonaire are women. One Democrat and one Republican. On the City Council, there are only two women. Of the two Maryland senators and eight Maryland representatives in Congress, none are female."
The delegate and other speakers urged the women in the audience to run for elected office, or for seats on the Maryland Democratic Central Committee, or to support the women who do toss their hat in the ring.
McKenna, a Baltimore City resident, called women in Anne Arundel County the "tip of the spear in the upcoming elections, electing women and making change in the county and state."
At the meeting, six women announced their intention to run for various elected offices. Another half dozen are considering a run.
The audience was also urged to hold the current elected officials, from the White House to City Hall, accountable for their actions.
"Doing a post card campaign is much smarter than eating Oreos," said McKenna, who's gained 10 pounds since the election.
One audience member suggested joining the American Civil Liberties Union. Another stated people should call the White House.
Women were encouraged by McKenna to "show up and be present" at City and County Council meetings.
Sarbanes told the crowd they should hold Gov. Larry Hogan accountable on issues like supporting Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act. "I want Hogan to stand up to Donald Trump instead of standing back," he said, adding the energy in the room was part of "an explosion of energy across the country. It's a transformational moment in American politics."
He reminded the audience to pace itself. "Remember, we're only seven weeks in," Sarbanes said.
"All this energy needs to find its way to the ballot box next year."
For information about the Anne Arundel County Democratic Women (AACoDW), visit the webpage at www.aademocraticwomen.org or its Facebook page.