Chattanooga politicians react to record number of women running for president in 2020

Chattanooga City Councilwoman Carol Berz says she thinks the current political and social environments have sparked women's interest in public office. (Image: WTVC)

A record-breaking number of women plan to run for president in 2020. Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California made her formal announcement on Good Morning America Monday.

We wanted to know how local women in politics feel about what's different now from when women first ran for office.

Councilwoman Carol Berz says she thinks the current political and social environments have sparked women's interest in public office. Movements, like The Women's March, continue to dominate the headlines, but Berz says it takes more than marching to make women to run.

Serving on Chattanooga's City Council for more than a decade, Berz says she understands why more women now are answering the call to public service.

"I think its economy of scale, I think it's equity in business, I think it's education - I think it’s all sorts of things. I think the thing we need to realize is these aren't Republican or Democratic issues. They're human issues, and for some reason they need to be addressed better," said Berz.

Prominent women in Washington, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kirsten Gilibrand, Senator Tulsi Gabbard, and more all say they have what it takes to become POTUS in 2020.

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Those who were some the first to see women step into our community's leadership roles, like Marie Hurley Blair, daughter of Mai Bell Hurley, Chattanooga's first female elected to city government, say the key to success as a woman in politics is standing your ground.

"She had self-doubt at times, but I think she really was very much a big fixer person and had such a strong belief in the potential of what Chattanooga could become and was a part of that at every step,” said Blair.

Blair says her mom was often the only woman in the room at most meetings. That's not the case now, as two women, including Berz, sit on Chattanooga's commission.

Councilwoman Berz expects, if the momentum continues, even more women will sit in the commission chambers and even in the Oval Office.

"Women have realized that rather than complaining about things, we're responsible for policies that affect us and our families and we have to take the lead,” said Berz.

According to a Pew survey, 58 percent of women are paying closer attention to politics since the 2016 election, that’s compared with 46 percent of men.

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