Stewart-Cousins reaching out to women for 2018

By Kenneth Lovett

Hans Pennink / AP

The following is an expanded version of the second item from my "Albany Insider" column that ran in Monday's print editions:

As she seeks to become the first woman to lead the state Senate, Democratic Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins has begun traveling the state in hopes of energizing females and minorities to get involved in the political process heading into 2018.

Stewart-Cousins, the state Senate Democratic minority leader, on Saturday was the keynote speaker at the first training session of Emerge NY, a new state affiliate for Emerging America, a national organization focused on training Democratic women to run for office.

With the election of President Trump, Stewart-Cousins said it’s important that women not remain on the sidelines and, instead, seek to make change by running for office.

“Simply saying you support women's rights is not enough; action is needed,” she said.“When women get into leadership positions, our entire society moves forward and becomes stronger and fairer. Voters are energized and the more people we talk to about the issues facing our state, the more excited they become for upcoming elections.”

Stewart-Cousins, as Democratic minority leader became the first woman to head a state legislative conference, has traveled the state in the past few weeks speaking to women’s groups, including an Eleanor’s Legacy event in Albany. She also spoke in Buffalo to WE PAC, which seeks to help women running for office, and a host other progressive groups.

"Leader Stewart-Cousins' advocacy for getting more women into office is inspiring and her commitment to reaching back and pulling other women up with her is exactly what we hope to see from all elected women once they get into office," said A'shanti Gholar, political director of Emerge America. "We look forward to working with her to increase the number of Democratic women elected at the local, state and federal level in New York."

State Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif had no comment other than to say that the GOP conference has more women members than any other conference in the chamber, including Sen. Catharine Young (R-Olean), who heads the power Finance Committee.

"We're extraordinarily proud of that," Reif said.

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