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Queens Chronicle

QUEENS VOTES Calling on city to stop scandal talk

Advocate candidate starts petition to bring focus back to the issues

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 8:53 pm, Wed Aug 14, 2013.

Public advocate candidate Reshma Saujani is calling for an end to the scandals and the gossip in New York City politics.

“We’re in a heightened celebrity culture,” Saujani said. “More people have seen a picture of a candidate’s private parts than have a knowledge of what the candidate’s stances are.”

To combat the sleaze, Saujani has launched the Up to Us campaign to empower women voters to shift the political climate and conversation away from the sex scandals that mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and comptroller candidate Eliot Spitzer have found themselves in.

“I just think in the past week or so there is this uptick in talking about scandals,” Saujani said. “We need candidates and voters to focus on the issues women face every day rather than discussing these other issues. Women make up the majority of the city, and every day I’m seeing issues like poverty and job creation greatly impacting New York City women.”

The public advocate candidate has gotten support for her initiative from the Women’s Campaign Fund.

“We are proud to support candidates like Reshma Saujani who are fighting to change the male-dominated world of politics,” said Sam Bennett, president and CEO of WCF, in an email. “Whether you’re talking about Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer, there should be zero tolerance in politics for misogyny and the blatant disrespect of women. We join the Up to Us campaign to encourage women voters in New York City to stand up and make their voices heard. It’s up to us as women to transform the political system and make it better.”

There is a petition available online at uptous2013.com asking for the public to get involved in reclaiming the public discussion and voting for candidates who will address the real needs of women and girls.

“Women are still making 60 cents on the dollar that every man makes,” Saujani said. “The truth is that 86 percent of women work now, and yet paid maternal leave is still an issue many women have to face.”

Saujani, who created the computer science education program Girls Who Code, said that she will prioritize women’s needs if elected to office by creating a women’s commissioner to oversee and handle women’s issues.

“A majority of our donor base is women,” she said. “We have 450 full-time volunteers and 99 percent of them are women. The phone is ringing off the hook, there are young women coming from college to support the campaign and they’re coming because they see that I’m talking about issues that affect them directly. I’m happy to be considered a women’s issues advocate.”

While Saujani is trying to push voters from focusing on scandals, she did acknowledge that the public will take personal choices into account.

“We’re all going to look at the content of people’s character and I understand that is important,” she said. “However, 60 percent of parents don’t want to send their daughters to intern in Albany and that’s an issue when we’re trying to break through the glass ceiling. What we need to focus on is getting women to come out and vote.”

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