This ongoing series of conversations on political engagement with women in Minnesota was produced as a collaboration between Amra Avdic, journalist and project director of the Festival of Contemporary Women in Bosnia, and Minnesota Women’s Press. 2021 years.
Amra interviewed women in politics in Minnesota and set up conversations with Bosnian TV viewers about how to engage and support female candidates and voters in what has been viewed as a patriarchal society. shared.
Can you tell us how you became a politician in the Minnesota House of Representatives?
I joined a group called the League of Women Voters of America. It started after the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. They wanted to educate women on this issue. So I joined that group locally, was interested in attending political meetings, school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and was recruited by one of my friends from the League of Women Voters who goes to a local school board. . I did it in a few terms. He was then elected to the state legislature. When I got involved, I was always careful to recruit other women. I would never have entered politics if strong women hadn’t pushed me forward.I try to do the same with other women.
You said earlier that it’s important to encourage more women to run. What has proven in your experience to be an effective way to encourage women to run for office?
Women are not good at doing things on their own. They need a lot of people to support them and a lot of help. . Don’t decide to run until you have a backer. The treasurer or someone needs to collect the money and put it in the bank and prepare a thank you note, we need a volunteer her coordinator who will knock on the door with us and recruit people to help. You need someone to lead your social media. I tell women to do so. They feel comforted and empowered, and especially these days with all the negative campaigning, the races can be tough, which is why they’re at the races. is not just me.
We usually see women constantly wondering if they are ready to join politics. Are we ready, or should we be bold and give it a try even if we don’t think we’re all ready?
jump in Because we are not ready. you are correct. Luckily we are always learning. We are lifelong learners. I am always reading books, listening to documentaries, podcasts, etc. We are never finished learning. The best place to learn is in an elected position. So when I’m on the school board, I can talk to the superintendent every day if I want to. If you have a question about how buses run, how your child gets to school, or what reading or math curriculum is right for you, the school district has someone you can ask. Like I said, I’m from the League of Women Voters, where we studied the issue to the death.
In my country it is very discouraging that even women do not want to vote for women. Because even women don’t want to vote for women on the pretext that men have been in politics longer, men know better, etc. What can be done to change them?
I believe that success breeds success. Those of us who are supporting more women in the office need to keep doing that and keep pushing. I have to. Then they will win. When they don’t run, it means there aren’t as many women in office as we need. The higher up the food chain you go, the more criticism you get. I think governors and presidents and people in high places need to be really strong and it’s really good to have a male voice and a strong man or something like that. It’s a more difficult place to get to. We know women study hard and work hard. So I think I’m more of a role model.
What are you trying to achieve through your involvement in political games? How hard was it to fully expose your throat? How did you deal with public as well as private situations?
When Jim got sick, it was the luxury of me being a legislator. He was his 21 and I had been an MP for his 6 years. I was already a public figure with both our children and my husband. When Jim got sick, it was natural for me to keep talking about his family. In particular, things like Jim’s mental illness when he fell ill in 1999 may not be covered at all. When it is an elected official, there are opportunities and obligations to share. Even though it was hard, it was still a luxury because I am personally in anguish. Every time our family got into trouble, the hospital wouldn’t talk to us because we didn’t ask him about the medical disclosure to get information, or the police took him to the hospital. Because I didn’t go. It was out of control and could make a fuss. They didn’t want to be a poor caregiver for Senator Grayling’s son. It gave me power and I felt compelled to use it for others.
The first law I ever passed was the first problem we encountered. They didn’t talk to me because Jim hadn’t signed the disclosure. Actually, they didn’t ask him to sign. He was in so much pain and mental illness when he went to the hospital that they didn’t think it was their job to ask him out. We created a simple bill that hospitals had to explain to families about the need to sign a release. A lot of times it’s just common sense written that it’s policy and people aren’t using common sense. So all things like that. I feel better too.
After 20 years in the legislative branch, what result are you most proud of?
I would have been most proud of this enormous educational financial reform that we developed in partnership with every educational group in the state. And they finally agreed to it.The state had different areas that needed different types of funding, and they were always fighting each other, but there was this plan that was fair for everyone. . It would have been my greatest achievement. I couldn’t get past it. It was passed by the House where I was serving, but I think the governor signed it. But because the rural Democrats in the Senate, actually my own party, feared they were doing well under the old system that allowed them to claim certain special things in the Education Finance Bill. , killed it… so it didn’t pass. That was my biggest regret.
What I am most proud of is my mental health law. We ended up with a larger mental health system with more funding, a more robust volume of services, and many policy improvements. I’ve spent most of my time teaching, and I think that’s what I remember most.
How does your daily life as wife, sister, mother and daughter play an important role in your political activism? How do you see it?
I think women are good at multitasking. So I think it’s only natural. We can weave everything together. Our daughter was a journalist, just like you, and she was interested in public policy, but she was smart enough to stay out of the fray herself. If you are familiar with that her organization, she works for POLITICO.
My son Jim helped me write the book. A lot of parents I know want to write about their children who have schizophrenia or some sort of mental illness, but their families don’t want it. I’m used to this culture of being silent. It will only complicate your grief and grief. So when you speak publicly, everyone benefits. I always spoke publicly, helped my family, and helped write a book.
did you know?
drug death: 1,286 people died from accidental overdose in Minnesota in 2021. This is his 22% increase from 2020. Most of these are related to fentanyl. Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said: “One of the key steps, he said, is to expand programs that give people easy access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses and save lives.”