If Emily’s List has anything to say about it, voters will follow these signs to cast ballots for a full slate of women mayoral candidates on upcoming Election Days. (Credit: Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

Madam Mayor’s mission: Support women running in the 2023 and 2024 elections.

Madam Mayor isn’t a person – it’s a new program from Emily’s List, which supports Democratic, pro-choice women candidates running for office. According to its website, the organization has helped over 1,700 women candidates win their respective races for offices big and small, with help from its 5 million-strong volunteer and worker community, and $850 million raised.

This new effort, though, will focus specifically on mayoral races throughout the nation.

“The battle for reproductive freedom, and our very democracy, is playing out on a local level every single day,” Emily’s List president Laphonza Butler told The 19th. “[T]hese women stand at the frontlines, working to make their communities a better place and standing up to Republican extremism in the face of a relentless onslaught against our freedoms.”

There has been a groundswell of interest among women candidates over the years. And in some ways, representation for women candidates is improving, albeit slowly. The 2022 elections saw new records made for women candidates who ran for higher office. In all, 149 women now hold seats in Congress, which means women control 27.9% of the House and Senate combined – not parity, but a new high.

But increasing the amount of women running isn’t the only goal. Representatives added to The 19th that both misinformation – inaccurate news spread accidentally – and disinformation – which is spread on purpose – are chief concerns, and the desire to counter both was a primary motivation for starting up the program. Both phenomena have had a “chilling effect on recruitment.”

Emily’s List also released a new round of endorsements in tandem with launching the program. Among the six named was Daniella Levine Cava, who is running for reelection as mayor of Miami-Dade County. As both the first woman and first Jewish individual to hold the office, she weathered more than her fair share of mis- and disinformation while running.

“Being in office is not child’s play. It’s challenging, and you have to be willing to expose yourself to lots of attacks on both sides of the aisle, if you will,” she said to The 19th. “I think I’ve been very fortunate to … thread the needle with focusing so much on [what] the community needs, and trying to stay out of ideological warfare.”

But, Levine Cava added, simply getting more women to vie for these posts, at any level, matters as well. “I believe that building the bench is where we have failed. Not enough is being done to look for promising candidates, to groom them, to support them, encourage them,” she said. 

It’s particularly pressing, Emily’s List representatives add, as Americans’ rights hang in the balance – especially, in the eyes of the pro-choice organization, the loss of abortion access following the 2022 Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade

As Levin Cava reiterates: “All politics are local.”