What is the level of political power held by women locally and does the Greater New Bedford Community elect women to hold political power?

What is the level of political power held by women locally and does the Greater New Bedford Community elect women to hold political power?

I found myself asking that question after the recent women’s rally and march in New Bedford and I'm very encouraged by the answer.

On the New Bedford City Council, 60-percent of the counselors are women, including president Linda Morad, who is on the short-list for possible mayoral candidates. Dana Ribeiro, a three-term member, was one of the organizers of the women’s rally and march, has defeated at least three male opponents at the ballot box. Deb Coelho and Naomi Carney have all been reelected several times.

Bethany Santos-Fauteaux, who was an organizer of the event, is a candidate to watch for in the future. As a first-time candidate this year, she did exceptionally well with a second place finish.

A former chief of staff for Rep. Barney Frank, Maria Giesta defeated a field of men to earn her spot on the city council. As a first-time mayoral candidate, Giesta had a strong showing in 2015 and is often mentioned as a candidate for several positions.

Assessor Kim Saunders is a talented businesswoman and a CPA, who has been elected and reelected to her, while school committee member Colleen Dawiki won her first term in 2017.

These women are following in the footsteps of former mayor Rosemary Tierney, who was also a school committee member and served on the Governor’s Council.

Outside of New Bedford, several women are having an impact on the local and state levels.

In Lakeville, selectman Mitzi Hollenbeck, who’s a partner in an accounting firm, is regularly discussed as a statewide candidate among operatives.

Freetown has had a female majority on their selectmen board for years. Jean Fox leads the effort for the South Coast Rail and has also been elected to the school committee, while

Lisa Pacheco continues to serve as selectman after having been re-elected multiple times.

Many of the members of the local delegation in the State House of Representatives are women who have been elected and re-elected despite having a male opponent in an election. Susan Gifford of Wareham, Keiko Orral of Lakeville (who also serves on the National Committee of the Republican Party), Shaunna O’Connell of Taunton, Pat Haddad of Somerset, Carole Fiola of Fall River (a former governor councilor), and Sarah Peake of Cape Cod.

Women are elected as Republicans and Democrats to offices of power and responsibility by my neighbors and by me. Candidates, regardless of gender, need the votes of both genders to win an election.

Chris McCarthy is a talk show host on WBSM. You can hear his show from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. His opinions are solely his own.

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