Some perspective on Emerge Colorado

A column by State Sen. Faith Winter
Posted 1/16/19

Recently through various social media posts and through Bill Christopher’s most recent column there has been a lot of concern that Emerge has too much power in Westminster. I think this is …

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Some perspective on Emerge Colorado

Posted

Recently through various social media posts and through Bill Christopher’s most recent column there has been a lot of concern that Emerge has too much power in Westminster.

I think this is misplaced criticism and want to talk about what Emerge actually is and what it is not.

Emerge is a training program and a network, nothing more. Emerge is a six-month training program dedicated to training Democratic women to run for office. I think that the voters of Westminster are better served by elected officials that are dedicated public servants and are so dedicated that they are willing to give up six weekends in a year to be better at their job. Additionally, these are public servants who are humble enough to seek out a program because they are willing to admit they don’t know everything.

Emerge is not the only training program. For example, Westminster City Councilor Dave DeMott is an alum of the Rocky Mountain Leadership Institute - an organization that leans conservative.

Although I don’t agree on many policy issues with Councilor DeMott, I applaud him and think he is a better public servant for going through a training program, one that he often promotes on social media. I am glad he does so.

Training programs

Bill Christopher’s column also claimed that what began as The White House Project turned into Emerge, but that is incorrect.

Emerge trains Democratic women. The White House Project, which is proudly non-partisan, turned into VoteRunLead.

In fact, former Adams County Treasurer Brigitte Grimm and Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams have helped with trainings at VoteRunLead and former Senator Beth Martinez-Humenick, my most recent opponent, is an alum of the program.

For my male friends interested in training I recommend Re-Power, which was formally known as Wellstone, Run for Something or New American Leaders Project.

Emerge is not the only training program working to empower new public officials and if it is just as okay for Councilor DeMott to promote his program as it is appropriate for Emerge graduates to promote their program.

Networks

There are a lot of networks that influence Westminster politics.

When I was first elected in 2007, the majority of council were members of the Rotary Club and Historical Society - both organizations that I deeply respect for the work they do in Westminster.

However, at the time it wasn’t the organizations but rather the networks of people involved in those organizations that recruited Bob Briggs (another person that I respect and enjoyed working with) into the council race at the last minute in hopes to defeat me because I was young and part of an anti-Wal-Mart effort.

Networks of people recruiting and supporting candidates is nothing new. The only difference with Emerge is it is a network of all women.

However, that’s not the only difference. Emerge is also radically transparent.

Emerge and the non-partisan VoteRunLead both seek gender parity in politics, knowing that our democracy works best and finds the best solutions to problems when there is a diversity of experiences, backgrounds and ideas at the table.

Emerge very clearly states their mission, promotes their alumni and recruits new women to run.

I believe the transparency has led to this round of criticism because it is easy to see what Emerge does while other networks are not transparent in their mission. In fact, Emerge spends absolutely zero dollars on electioneering, only training women to run — unlike organizations like Westminster Strong, which does spend money promoting and opposing candidates and issues without a transparent mission or a transparent endorsement process.

Finally, this is really about the voters. All Emerge women in Westminster — myself, Emma Pinter, Shannon Bird, Anita Seitz and Maria DeCambra - won their elections handily because the voters thought that we were the best, most qualified people for the jobs.

The only Emerge woman not to stand for election yet is the newest city councilor Dr. Mahnke - and she will get that chance this November. Dr. Mahnke is immensely qualified to be a public servant that has dedicated her life to building community.

She didn’t get appointed because she is going to be in the next Emerge class: She was appointed because she is a qualified woman and dedicated enough to the city to seek out a training program to better serve the citizens.

It’s worth noting that Dr. Mahnke decided she wanted to be a city councilor before she ever joined Emerge. It was her dedication to her city that drove her to want to run and it was women like me that recommended her to a training program to help her be successful.

Emerge is a transparent, training program and network. The only difference between Emerge and other organizations in Westminster is it is an all women network.

Perhaps if people are upset about the work Emerge does it is really being upset about women in power.

Faith Winter is the State Senator for District 24, the Founding Executive Director of Emerge Colorado, a, former National Training Director of The White House Project and currently serves as a Training Director of VoteRunLead.

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