Morgan Hill Times April 24, 2015
Four veteran Santa Clara County office holders offered unique insight into their experiences as women in politics at an April 23 panel discussion in Morgan Hill.
The forum featured Morgan Hill Councilwoman Marilyn Librers, Santa Clara County Board of Education member Claudia Rossi, former Morgan Hill Unified School District Trustee Kathy Sullivan and San Jose Vice Mayor Rose Herrera.
The event was organized by the American Association of University Women Morgan Hill chapter, and was held at the Community and Cultural Center.
A key goal of the forum was to encourage women to run for office and support those who are already serving their communities in office, according to AAUW members.
“Don’t be afraid to try it,” Herrera offered as advice for any woman who is thinking about running for an elected position. “Or support a woman who wants to run. We have to realize that women are great political leaders.”
The panelists answered questions about their reasons for running, their accomplishments in office and challenges they have faced in politics.
Rossi, who sat on the MHUSD board of education before being elected to the county board in November 2014, said she was inspired to run by longtime Morgan Hill educator, volunteer and community activist Loritta Bonfante Johnson.
“She recognized a potential in me I didn’t see in myself,” Rossi said. “There are people in our community serving very quietly.”
Rossi added her advice to potential candidates is to “think beyond the election” and “know your role.” As an example, she referred to her “dismay” at reports of recent MHUSD board meetings in which tensions have flared among trustees and staff.
“There are certain board members who do not know their role. That can be disruptive and demoralizing,” Rossi said. She did not name these board members at the April 23 forum.
Librers said while she served as an appointed city commissioner before running for office, she heard frequent “mumbling and grumbling” in the community about government decisions.
“I thought, ‘I’m not going to just grumble. I’m going to step up,’” Librers said.