By Samantha Bartholomew
The Riverside Women’s Club (RWC) marked the 98th anniversary of the 19th Amendment by co-hosting an event with the League of Women Voters that called for more women to run for office.
The RWC is the oldest community service organization in Riverside, founded January 7, 1896. Since its establishment, the organization has played a major role in establishing key community staples, such as the Riverside Carnegie Library, Riverside Community Library, Riverside Community Hospital and the local chapters of national organizations such as the Red Cross, the Epilepsy Society and the YMCA.
“While the RWC has strong roots, our focus is on the future,” club president Robbie Kennedy said, highlighting the club’s dedication to academics through their scholarship grants to high school seniors, Riverside City College nursing and arts and music students, as well as their support for University of California Riverside medical students with their Doctor’s Corner project which allows an opportunity for medical interns to present women’s health topics to the public.
Patricia Lock Dawson, president of the Riverside Unified School District’s Board of Trustees, led the event notably wearing white to symbolize the suffragettes.
“We want to use this event as a way to showcase the women we currently have in office and we also want to encourage more (women) to run,” Dawson said.
Joan Donahue is the vice president of Riverside’s branch of the League of Women Voters.
“Our goal remains the same as it did in 1920,” Donahue said. “To give citizens the information they need to make the best, most informed decisions that they can and together we can make this democracy work.”
“All we need is more women to carry the flag for us,” Donahue said.
“As I was getting into city government, my children were up and leaving the house, so I never experienced empty nest syndrome because the city and the effort that went around it sort of filled that hole,” said Laura Roughton, a Jurupa Valley council member.
Janice Rutherford, a member of San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, told the story of a trip to the circus “I remember looking up to the top of the big top, at the highwire,” Rutherford said.
“Think of that feeling you got in your tummy when you looked up at the rope and saw that lone performer step out. They move very precisely across that wire and you hold your breath as you watch. You know it’s taking everything to make that performance. You feel excited, nervous, hopeful and anxious. It’s an amazing thing to watch.”
Rutherford said that performing on the highwire resembles the lives of those who take on public office.
“A life in public service is a lot like that highwire,” Rutherford said. “In public life, if you are not focused like a laser you get pulled off your mission in a second. Some people get distracted by that spotlight. It’s nice to have a title and it’s nice to have a gavel. Those things can be distractions from why you got elected into office the reason you ran for office to begin with.”
“There’s a reason you ran and if you don’t keep your concentration, you’ll end up at the end of the term with nothing to show for it,” Rutherford said.
“The concept of balance. It’s hard as an elected official to find balance with those distractions because there is so much to think about that you didn’t know you’d have to think about it.”
Rutherford admits that juggling is not always simple.
“I drop balls. Sometimes I drop the ball with my kids, sometimes I drop the ball with what I’m supposed to be working on. Sometimes I drop the ball with my constituents. The thing about juggling is that it’s no big deal, you just have to pick up the ball again and you try it again the next day.”
“Please don’t just sit on the bleachers with your neck craned up toward the highwire,” Rutherford said. “Dare to participate, stick your toe out and find your balance.”