CRF Blog

Interview of the Day: Toni Atkins

by Bill Hayes

Patt Morrison, a Los Angeles Times columnist, interviews new California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.

Why are there fewer women in the Legislature now — 25%, compared to 31% about 10 years ago?

One big reason is that women just don’t run for office as often as men do. Unlike men, women usually wait to be asked to run, rather than self-nominating. It never occurred to me when I was a young woman that I might end up as an elected government official; I initially ran for office because my mentor, former state Sen. Christine Kehoe, encouraged me to.

Mentoring is key to getting women to run. I have focused on supporting groups like Emerge California, the California List and Close the Gap CA that encourage and support women candidates statewide, and a San Diego group called Run Women Run. [more]