I am troubled by the recent “censure” of JoAnn True by the Wyoming Republican Party and the corresponding response from Marti Halverson regarding JoAnn’s involvement in a nonpartisan PAC whose sole purpose is to encourage and help women get involved in the political process regardless of party affiliation.
Isn’t Wyoming the equality state? Wyoming boasts this slogan to no end. It has been especially present in the last year with the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming. However, if you even glance at the rosters for the elected offices in our great state, you would see that we do not put this into practice. Wyoming has been given a “D” for its representation by women according to a recent report by RepresentWomen. Wyoming has been and is still very much a “good ol’ boys club.” There are hardly any women’s voices present in our elected offices. I think what the Cowgirl Run Fund represents is at the heart of what we should be supporting as the “Equality State.” As a former President of Natrona County Republican Women, I, for one, can attest to how intimidating it can be to get into the political arena here in Wyoming. So, to have a group out there, helping women learn about the political process, making it less intimidating and encouraging involvement is exactly what we need.
What really disturbed me though were the obtuse comments from Marti Halverson. “Having served in the Wyoming House for six years, I can attest that women are superbly represented,” wrote Halverson, one of slightly more than a dozen women in the 90-person Legislature during her final year in office. “The men are husbands, sons and fathers of daughters, and they hear from the women in their lives frequently on the issues before the legislature. ‘Woman’s issues’ are always well addressed.”
If women’s issues are always so well addressed, then why did Ms. Halverson feel the need to be in the legislature? During her tenure in Cheyenne, why was she part of the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus? If she believes what she is saying, shouldn’t she speak to a man in the legislature to have her issues properly addressed?
I have a hard time believing that women are superbly represented when such a small percentage of our legislature are women. I have no doubt that our legislators have women in their lives who they can reach out to if they are in need of a woman’s perspective on an issue. But what women are asking for is a seat at the table to speak, not just to be “heard” second-hand from the perspective of male legislators. This is not the 1950s, and comments like Ms. Halverson’s move us backwards and not forward. Women are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves, and her comments are exactly why there is a need for an organization like the Cowgirl Run Fund.
I would also like to point out Ms. Halverson’s involvement in the nonpartisan organization Leap into Leadership as well as the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus. Leap into Leadership, while not a PAC, is an organization whose purpose is identical to the Cowgirl Run Fund. They help women learn how to get into politics regardless of party affiliation. The Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus even provides scholarships to women to attend the White House Project’s “Go Run Political Leadership Training.” I wonder how many non-Republican candidates Halverson has supported and helped get elected from her role with both Leap into Leadership and the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus.
Halverson’s comments show a sentiment that is more or less an unspoken truth in politics here, and why organizations such as the Cowgirl Run Fund and Leap into Leadership came into existence. To bring women’s voices forward to be heard, so we can actually live Wyoming’s Legacy as the “Equality State” not just in words, but in action.
But, ultimately, I think this speaks to a larger issue of what is going on with the dysfunctionality of the Wyoming Republican Party. As long as there is this divisiveness among the ranks, we cannot and will not be able to come together to serve the people of Wyoming and this will be to the detriment of the people and the party.
In closing, JoAnn True embodies what it means to be a Cowgirl. She works tirelessly for her community, for her family, her political party and this state. She should be admired for her efforts to help women break into politics. She is a treasure to our community, and I sincerely hope this does not discourage or silence her (or anyone else for that matter) from continuing to do the great work that she does for Wyoming.
As for Ms. Halverson, I hope she can look back at her time in the Wyoming Legislature and what she was working towards to see the absolute double standard/hypocrisy in her statements last week.Stacey Zeidler is a Casper native and local healthcare professional. She served as President of the Natrona County Republican Women from 2013-2015.
Stacey Zeidler is a Casper native and local healthcare professional. She served as President of the Natrona County Republican Women from 2013-2015.