Women of Color in Politics & Policymaking

Q+A with Madison Alder Sheri Carter
 By Lisa Bauer

While women of color make up more than 35 percent of the U.S. population, they constitute only 6.2 percent of the U.S. Congress. The numbers are similar in Wisconsin, but a small, powerful group of women of color here are breaking barriers, including Alder Sheri Carter.

Q: What are your thoughts on seeing the first female nominated for the American presidency?

A: Women all over the world witnessed an historic moment for our country. Americans should be inspired that nothing is out of our reach. This isn’t just a moment in our present, but a moment that will be looked upon by women finishing college, to our girls starting their first day of kindergarten.

Q: What unique ideas and qualities do women, especially women of color, bring to the policymaking table?

A: As a woman of color, we share the same experiences as others in the community; however, we view our experiences from different angles. We have an obligation to voice our concerns to those too often felt left behind. 

Q: What have been the biggest barriers as a woman of color running for public office or in an elected office? 

A: I wouldn’t necessarily say there are barriers, but we need to start bringing in voices that are directly affected by our policies. I speak with constituents daily, and they aren’t looking at me as a woman of color but as a representative of them in our city. My district has the confidence in me to make sure their voices are heard, and valued in City Hall.    

Q: Women continue to be underrepresented in nearly every elected office in Wisconsin. How can we encourage civic-minded women of color to run for office at every level?

A: I received encouragement from neighbors, fellow committee members, friends who saw that I wanted a better city for all, and the ability to connect with all levels of our society. We need to recognize, encourage and lead the way for other women of color to run for office.  

Q: What advice would you give to women of color interested in public service through elected office?

A: Bring your knowledge, your values and your experiences to the table and get engaged in your community.

For more insights and ideas from other area women in or who have run for office—including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and candidate for Governor of Wisconsin Mary Burke—see “Run, Women, Run” on P. 61 in the print or online editions of October 2016 issue. 

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