“We set no limit on goals and what we will accomplish, but our focus will remain on electing individuals who are supportive of progressive ideals, such as LGBTQ+ issues and reproductive health,” says Tara Gaston of CapitalWomen. She’s helping facilitate the ongoing launch of CapitalWomen Saratoga, a women-run political initiative that took effect following the election of President Trump in 2016.
Officially underway as of yesterday evening—the group had a launch party at Longfellows in Saratoga—CapitalWomen Saratoga exists as a newly founded branch of CapitalWomen NY. The group holds regular meetings during which Spa City locals can discuss how to help more women and progressive candidates reach public office. “I spoke to a number of women in Saratoga Springs who were looking to form a base of candidates and staff, and more year-round support,” says Gaston. Members include former Mayor Joanne Yepsen, public relations strategist Ruth Fein and immigration law professor Sarah Rogerson. “I felt that [together] we could build something more sustainable with a focus on education and networking,” says Gaston.
It didn’t take long for CapitalWomen Saratoga to gain steam. In its first year, the group managed to donate $16,000 to local campaigns leading up to the 2017 election. As it stands, CapitalWomen-endorsed candidates have a 70 percent win rate. The women-run initiative plans to increase their influence even further this year. “CapitalWomen Saratoga will work as a part of a local and state PAC,” Gaston tells me (PAC stands for “political action committee,” by the way). “Additionally, CapitalWomen will serve as a bundler for federal elections. The part that I’m most excited about, however, is the programming that will focus on growth, development, networking, education and support of political leaders and staff.”
CapitalWomen Saratoga’s plan is to also network and develop their way into representation in nearby counties. The group’s launch is well underway, and a Schenectady branch of CapitalWomen is on the horizon. The question remains whether a substantial base of politically minded women will be interested enough to join. “If you’ve ever wanted to get more women and progressive candidates in office, this is a way to help,” Gaston says. “The programming will not just focus on candidates, but on potential staff members; and will offer information and guidance that will benefit individuals outside of politics as well, such as fundraising, leadership skills, public speaking and message development.”