St. Louis Park resident Brian Shekleton is most certainly a man, but that doesn't mean he doesn't support women political candidates.
Quite the contrary, in fact.
In the backyard of his home in the 2600 block of Toledo Avenue South, Shekleton hosted the first-ever "Men for WomenWinning" fundraiser on Tuesday evening. The event supported WomenWinning, a 30-year-old statewide PAC that advocates for—and recruits—pro-choice women candidates.
“Women candidates often win when they run, they work hard, this organization does a really good job of marshaling resources strategically, and the staff are super competent," Shekleton said.
Shekleton, who has worked in public affairs for the past 20 years, said he's gotten to know a lot of the WomenWinning members. When he recently bought his grandparents' old house in St. Louis Park, he knew right away how he wanted to celebrate.
“When I thought about how to do the first party at my house, I wanted to do it for a nonpartisan organization, which is what they are," Shekleton said. "And I wanted the money I would raise to be used effectively.”
Lauren Beecham, the executive director of WomenWinning, said it's very important to have a female perspective in office.
“Women prioritize women’s issues, but it’s not just issues that are important to women. It is also issues that impact families. While men might vote the right way, it’s actually women who bring those issues to the table,” she said. “It’s important to get them there, so that legislatively, (these issues) can be prioritized.”
Beecham also said that it's time for elected offices to more closely mirror society as a whole. While women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, only 17 percent of Congress members are women. The Minnesota Legislature is better, at 32 percent, but Beecham said more can be done. This election season, WomenWinning is endorsing roughly 60 pro-choice women candidates across the state.
“We really feel good about our candidates," Beecham said. “We feel with the support of WomenWinning, they really have a great opportunity to win.”
"WomenWinning is a fantastic organization," he said. "They do great work, and have been doing it for a long time."
Echoing Beecham's sentiments, Simon said it's important to get more women in office, both locally and across the country.
"It’s all about perspective," he said. "Different life perspectives, background perspectives, ideological perspectives. But we need fair representation when it comes to gender perspectives. It does matter.
“Regardless of party affiliation, having pro-choice women there really means that a major, major constituency makes itself heard and felt and seen at the Capitol.”