Question: if you were to ask a room of over 500 young women whether any of them would like to work in public service, how many hands would you see? Answer: fewer than ten. Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel posed this question to the School community on Oct. 21 during an All-School Meeting in Caswell Hall, where she talked about the road that led her to run for Mayor of Los Angeles in the hopes that her experience would inspire students to run for political office some day.
With the mayoral election coming up in May of 2013, an independent poll issued on Oct. 26 showed that Greuel leads her closest competitor, City Councilman Eric Garcetti, with 30% of registered voters planning on voting for her and only 14% of registered voters planning on voting for him.
Greuel spoke to students and employees about the discouragement and prejudice she faces as a female elected official. Even her mother did not approve of her political dreams; she was more concerned with getting a grandchild. However, Greuel said she did not let the low expectations that come with being a female politician stop her from achieving her dreams. Instead, she said she felt empowered to work harder to prove those people wrong.
“It is important to have women in elected office because we do look at things differently, and we have an opportunity to use our skills to make a difference… especially since there is only one woman out of 15 on [Los Angeles] City Council, currently,” Greuel said.
Mackenzie Menia, who started out as Greuel’s intern and now is one of Greuel’s Women with Wendy Committee Members, said she found that working with Greuel has been an amazing experience.
“I encourage everyone to intern,” Menia said. “I hadn’t thought about [running for office] but with Wendy as an amazing teacher… in the back of my mind I have the idea of maybe running, especially with this experience.”
Greuel also spoke about how she inspired her young son Thomas to run for student body vice president. Some students said they felt inspired by the story Greuel told about how her son refrained from making false promises in his election speech. Others said Greuel’s story about catching a woman stealing money from the city led them to think about running for public office in the future to try to stop the corruption in politics.
“I loved how she, being an elected official, has inspired her son and her intern to think about running,” Rachel ’17 said. “She’s really inspiring, and her son was spot on about the evil people of politics.”
Some students, however, said they wished Greuel’s speech had focused less on the oppression of women and more on how to overcome sexism.
“I can see how being in an all-girls school environment made her talk more on the negatives of [being] female in the political environment, but I felt like we could have heard more positive things about women and how to be more proactive,” Junior Class Council President Kyla ’14 said.