Suffragette city: Marchers gather in Roseville for Women’s Equality Day
Not long after 50 to 60 women marched down Vernon Street in Roseville to mark Women’s Equality Day, Susan Gutowsky acknowledged the obvious.
“We’re all here because we have unfinished work to do,” Gutowsky, co-chair of Placer Women Democrats, told the women while they sat for a luncheon and speakers at Randy Peters Catering on Saturday.
It’s been nearly a century since American women gained the right to vote with the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Every Aug. 26, people gather at Women’s Equality Day events around the country to celebrate this. But, in so many facets of life, women still face a tough road.
This theme was on display with a number of speakers during Saturday’s event.
There was Placer County Office of Education’s Superintendent Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, who told the women that upon starting this job, she earned $35,000 less than her male predecessor. It took her six years to earn more.
At one point, Garbolino-Mojica went to the county for a raise, with a staff member hesitating on the dais and saying, “She’s married, and I don’t know how much her husband makes.”
The women in the room groaned as Garbolino-Mojica recounted this.
Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery spoke briefly before departing for an engagement in Lake Tahoe, one of a handful of elected or aspiring officials who showed up.
Roseville City Council members Scott Alvord and Bonnie Gore each marched and then departed early into the luncheon. Congressional candidate Regina Bateson, one of four Democrats challenging Rep. Tom McClintock for his seat, stayed through until the end.
Montgomery, in her remarks, noted another unfortunate statistic – while Placer County has 10 elected positions, just three are held by women.
“Placer County needs to be better,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery then asked how many women in the room were running in the 2018 election or interested in running in a future election.
“Statistically, women have to be asked to run – asked to run – seven times before they say yes,” Montgomery said.
She noted that, often, men don’t have to be asked at all before throwing their hats into the electoral ring.
Montgomery talked about how it was “such a frightening time in history right now” for LGBT citizens and other groups. She noted how 1992 was the “Year of the Woman” in government and how women have only lost representation in the federal government since.
“2018 is just an opportunity that is in our grasp,” Montgomery said.
Women from outside the South Placer area spoke as well, with Elk Grove mayoral candidate Tracie Stafford drawing the day’s only standing ovation. Among other things, Stafford discussed her recent efforts to get the majority of Elk Grove City Council to denounce the recent rally by hate groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The event was spearheaded by the Placer Women Democrats and by Diana Madoshi of the Women's History Project.
"I have granddaughters and I want things better for them," Madoshi said.
She added that she wanted things better for women in general, recalling tough times she'd lived through as a woman, such as not being able to get credit in her own name as recently as the 1970s.
Attendees seemed to come away from Saturday's event with positive impressions.
“It was very energized,” said Toni Fisher, 72, of Sun City Roseville.
The event largely skewed middle-aged to senior citizen, with Auburn resident Daniella Zimmerman, 56, saying it would have been nicer to have more young people present “because I don’t know if they understand the fight that went on.”
That fight seems far from over these days, noted Placer Women Democrats board member Liz Moore, 72, of Roseville.
“The sad feeling for us is the feeling we have to fight battles again – and we shouldn’t have to,” Moore said.
Note, 8/31: This story has been updated to reflect the contributions to Saturday's event of Diana Madoshi.