Rachel Michelin is the Executive Director of California Women Lead

The 2010 election season is turning out to be a nasty fight. Turn on the TV or radio and commercial after commercial is an attack on a candidate. Polling shows tight races around the state and many people have no idea what will happen on Election Day. Just the other day I was on Facebook and most of the comments asked, “When will it stop?”

It is hard right now to find anything positive about this Election Cycle and even harder to find any common ground between candidates, but I have found something, and it gives me hope! Recently both Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown found one thing they can agree on – the California Women’s State Appointments Project (CWSAP).

This non-partisan project is recruiting women throughout California to apply for appointments to boards or commissions with the new administration. Both candidates agree California needs women to step up and serve, and this project is one of the most effective ways to make it happen.

Women bring a unique perspective to public policy, a perspective that is desperately needed at a time when California faces so many challenges. This project is about encouraging ALL women to find their leadership potential and offer their services to the state – that is why BOTH candidates publicly support this initiative.

Jerry Brown states, “My record on supporting women in leadership throughout my career is strong. As Governor, I appointed women to nearly a third of all judicial and executive offices, far exceeding any of my predecessors. It is that same spirit of inclusion and diversity that I will bring to the office of Governor if I am elected on November 2. California is facing a number of serious challenges and we need all Californians to step up and serve.”

Meg Whitman also understands the important contributions women make to public policy, saying, “I endorse the goals of the California Women’s State Appointment Project.” She added that her campaign has “made a major focus of ‘encouraging more women to become involved in public service.’ My campaign theme is building A New California…a California in which all of us can succeed. And, as I have vowed on the campaign trail, when I put my administration together, it is going to look like California.”

CWSAP is about positive solutions to the problems our state faces, but the challenge is in encouraging women to become engaged in public service. When the political climate is so negative that it turns people off, especially women, that challenge is even greater. But, as both candidates have stated, whomever the next governor is, they need to have women from all backgrounds and from all parts of the state to submit an application and step up to serve.

It is easy to be discouraged right now and not get involved or be willing to serve, but more than ever we need women who are willing to move California forward. EVERY woman has something to contribute. Every board or commission in the state has a seat for a “public” member – an opportunity for a member of the public to use his or her experiences to affect public policy. It is not as nasty as running for office nor will it cost you a million dollars, but it can be a very satisfying way to make a contribution to the state and also to yourself. So many women from diverse backgrounds and experiences are serving on a board or commission where they are finding their voice and where they are making a difference.

It is easy to sit back and complain and find all the things wrong with government and our elected officials. It is easy to be a passive participant in our government process. It is harder to take a chance and become part of the solution. The first step is to visit www.cawomenlead.org/cwap and get more information about CWSAP; the second is filling out the application and joining the project.

Join Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, Maria Shriver and six of California’s leading women’s organizations, and me; together we will become part of the solution. Join the CA Women State Appointments project and let’s prove what California women can do.

Rachel Michelin is the Executive Director of California Women Lead a nonpartisan, nonprofit women’s leadership association whose goal is to ENGAGE*EMPOWER*ELECT women throughout the state. For more information bout CA Women Lead or to contact Rachel visit www.cawomenlead.org.