• Donna Lake for NC

What the anniversary of the 19th Amendment means to me and to our country

I spent 25 years of my career in the US Air Force, rising through the ranks to become a Colonel and then a Group Commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The journey to these achievements was not an easy one, but I don’t regret a day of my service to this nation. However, I saw then and still witness gender inequality, thus on the 100 year anniversary of the Suffrage Movement—we still need to be reminded about the strides we still must make to achieve true equality.

It wasn’t until two years ago that the US Air Force had its first female Surgeon General – a nurse, too, - Lieutenant General Hogg. Also in 2018, First Lieutenant Marina Hierle made history when, at 24, she became the first woman in Marine Corps history to pass the Infantry Officer Course, and then led about 35 men in the Third Platoon of the 4th Marines’ Echo Company, Second Battalion. And Lorna Mahlock, after 33 years of enlisted service, became in 2018 the first black female Marine Brigadier General all of which is evident of slowness in the recognition of women leaders in the military. In 2008 Ann Dunwoody became the first woman to earn the rank of 4-star General and in 2012, Janet Wolfenbarger became the first woman four-star general for the US Air Force.

As I reflect on my many military courses, specific to military leadership history and having witnessed first-hand women who served honorably in our nation’s defense in the battlespace and rose through the ranks—I know we must find ways to recognize women for their skills and competency at a faster rate.

Now that I am a female candidate for public office, I see blatant inequality in this field too.

Women make up more than 50% of the US population and are consistently the most reliable voters, but we don’t come close to making up half of the governing bodies that legislate our bodies, our economy, our health and public safety.

As we acknowledge today the hard work of our foremothers and sisters one century ago, we must also keep true equality of representation and opportunity in our minds. When I am sworn into the NC Senate next year, I will be the first woman to represent District 7 in that seat. I do not take that honor and responsibility for granted. It is about the issues, competency, and skills of the individual - not their gender - whether one is in the military or in an elected role.

My career has shaped my values and beliefs for this challenge. I have never shied away from hard work and won’t start now. In the State Senate I will be YOUR champion for the issues that matter to this district – access to affordable and quality healthcare, better public schools, expanding broadband access to strengthen virtual learning and telehealth resources, and promoting better, livable communities for all. I ask you to learn about my skills, knowledge and commitment to the people of this district.

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