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Workshop gives young women taste of politics

Alexa McDonald, of Half Hollow Hills East High

Alexa McDonald, of Half Hollow Hills East High School, speaks on behalf of her team as the LWV of Huntington sponsors a program called "Running and Winning" at the Dolan Center, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

The League of Women Voters of Huntington wants to inspire more women to get into politics.

The league hosted a hands-on workshop Thursday that allowed female high school students to work with elected officials to create a mock campaign for a virtual female politician.

"The future lies in this generation of women who are presently in high school, and I hope someday they will consider public service and politics as a career," said Eileen Coblens, vice president of the Huntington League of Women Voters and a co-chairwoman of the event.

The workshop, titled "Running and Winning," was held at the Dolan Family Health Center and involved 42 students from Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Huntington and North Babylon high schools. Joining the students were Suffolk County Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), Huntington Receiver of Taxes Ester Bivona, Suffolk County Court Judge Marlene Budd and Huntington Town Board member Tracey Edwards, among others.

"We need many more women in politics than we have now," Huntington Town Board member Susan Berland said. "If we can start the younger generations off as early as possible into the realm of political possibilities, then I think our country is heading in the right direction."

Commack High senior Melissa Holzberg, 18, said it's especially important that young women realize they have a place in politics. "We are a part of the change, and if we ever want to have complete equal rights and learn that we are just as important as any man, then we have to work together to do that," she said.

Huntington Town Republican Party chairwoman Toni Tepe said the workshop was an excellent way for the students to engage in the political process. "We have so many young women who have an interest in being politically motivated and involved, whether it be for public office or organizational politics," she said.Rachel Knopp, 18, a Commack senior, said she was pleasantly surprised by the workshop. "It's a great atmosphere for women to be inspired by other women, especially today," she said.

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