Alison Grimes speaks to WKU class about women in politics

Mason Davis

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Secretary of State, spoke Wednesday to a political science class at WKU.

Grimes talked to Victoria Gordon’s Women and Politics class. Also in attendance were members of the Young Democrats, a political organization on campus.

Grimes focused on the importance of voting, as September is National Voter Registration Month. She urged the students in attendance to register to vote.

“When democracy is broken for one of us, it’s broken for all of us. When it’s broken for women, for minorities, for anyone, it’s broken for all of us. But the great equalizer is the ballot box,” Grimes said.

She cited the turnout rate for eligible votes in Kentucky, which was 59%, and only 50% ages 17-24, and showed a desire for young people to vote and convince their peers to as well.

Grimes received questions from the class on a series of topics, such as disadvantages of being a woman, motivations in politics and current issues.

Grimes talked about instances of sexism and challenges she has experienced in government. She referenced a case she took as a young attorney where she was told to wear a skirt over a pantsuit. She had been told the judge was ‘old fashioned’ and wearing something else may risk the outcome of the case.

She also mentioned Martha Layne Collins, the former and first female governor of Kentucky. “I feel special every time I get a message from her. She blazed a trail. A trail that to me just seemed unavailable,” Grimes said.

She mentioned her family, and how they prepared her for a career in politics.

“I grew up in a family of women,” said Grimes, referencing her four sisters, “We were always encouraged to be vocal.”

She talked about her late grandmothers as a source of major inspiration for her. Both were born before women’s suffrage was passed, and saw the right to vote for women being ushered into action.

The recent order to end DACA was also addressed, which Grimes opposed, standing with the dreamers. She mentioned the promises they had been made when the program was put in place.

Louisville sophomore Erin Woggon is a member of the Young Democrats and was present for the event. She has seen Grimes speak before, while taking photos at a rally during the senatorial race.

“ I think it’s impressive to me that she is a woman in Kentucky and has a pretty big position and is influential in this state.” Woggin said.

The event was arranged by the professor, Victoria Gordon, and the Department head, Scott Lasley. The event has taken since the beginning of the semester to arrange, trying to find when Grimes would be close by and able to speak.

They are planning other events with female politicians in Kentucky. She says the department is looking to bring in Allison Ball, the Kentucky State Treasurer.

“We will also be inviting Republican women who are also in office to speak to our class as well, because we do try to provide balance in viewpoints. But this is really about female experience,” Gordon said.