MILTON — The Santa Rosa Democratic Party works to empower local women, during Women’s History Month and all year long, acccording to chairwoman Sarah Coutu.
“Women right now are the ones that are out there screaming the loudest,” Coutu said. “We’re the ones running for office more right now, and I think our current administration is to blame for that. The Democratic Party is excited about it.”
According to Coutu, the SRDP hopes to level the playing field and see a more diverse group of representatives within the government.
“Right now we have so many men representatives that I don’t think they’re representing the entire population,” Coutu said. “We would like to see minorities. We would like to see women, women of color and have what our country looks like representing us.”
For the month of March — Women’s History Month — Coutu and the SRDP decided to reach out to Santa Rosa County’s teacher of the year, Erin Cosky of Gulf Breeze High School, to be the guest speaker at their March meeting.
“I wanted to find someone in Santa Rosa County that we could celebrate for doing something that was a woman,” Coutu said. “Sure enough, the last two years [at least], teacher of the year were both women.”
Locally, the SRDP supports teachers and their push for a salary increase. The organization collected more than 1,100 local signatures last year in support of the salary increase.
“We feel that teachers shouldn’t have to work part-time side jobs to afford doing what they love as educators,” Coutu said.
In addition, the organization started a Feed the Kids program last year by reaching out to local schools, finding out how many homeless children they had that weren’t able to receive help from other programs to receive food, and donating backpacks of food.
The SRDP supports a “livable wage” of $15 per hour, and equal pay for equal work.
“We feel this will help lift families out of poverty,” Coutu said. “No mother or father should have to work two full-time jobs to support their family.”
The SRDP is a political organization that supports democratic candidates to run for office.
The organization offers campaign training for candidates and volunteers interested in helping elect democrats. According to Coutu, the organization has a greater number of women than men.
The Santa Rosa Democratic Executive Committee has a current membership of about 70 percent women. Each of the four democratic clubs, caucuses and committees in Santa Rosa County — Democratic Women’s Club, Democratic Black Caucus, Democratic Executive Committee and Young Democrats — are all led by women, as well.
However, there are a number of men in leadership positions.
“We want to support equality across the board,” Coutu said. “We hope to encourage, inspire and empower women to aspire to reach their dreams.”
The SRDP recently encouraged two local women to start and become presidents of two local chapters of the Santa Rosa County Democratic Black Caucus and Santa Rosa Young Democrats.
“Our current administration has inspired women and minorities nationwide to run for office. We… could not be more excited about that,” Coutu said. “We need to realize as a community and as a country that women and minorities are not second-class citizens.”