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Leah Landrum Taylor talks state of women in politics

Posted at 7:52 AM, Mar 19, 2021

PHOENIX — Just as Leah Landrum Taylor first began serving in the Arizona House of Representatives in 1999, Arizona politics was entering a golden age for women.

"I had the opportunity to be a part of some unique history in Arizona where we had the Fab Five, and the top five statewide positions were held by women," she said.

The Fab Five included Jane D. Hull as Governor, Secretary of State Betsey Bayless, then-Attorney General Janet Napolitano, Carole Springer as Treasurer, and Lisa Graham-Keegan as elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.

And while Landrum Taylor never felt any direct discrimination, she says women had to be assertive to break through as contributing voices.

"When that changed, I noticed the difference even with various pieces of legislation, where women would come in and have an opportunity to speak at the table. Not just grab a seat at the table but speak up and talk about things that were really important," she said.

Her unique perspective often set the men, and the record, straight on issues like education and childcare.

"They didn't really realize what the cost of childcare was," Landrum Taylor said. "And during that time, I remember, I was a new mother myself and I shared, 'No, it is very expensive. It is not $50 a week anymore.' So when you look at that, that really began to change the course of the conversation and where we were going to go when we talk about helping out, particularly the working poor, in things like childcare," she said.

From mentors then like Sandra Kennedy, and Herschella Horton, to peers now like Vice President Kamala Harris...

"She and I were Rodel Fellows together, classmates, and we participated in a two-year program," she said.

Landrum Taylor shared a wealth of women's knowledge and experience.

"It's nice to know that a person that you sat across and had lunch with and laughed with and talked with, is now sitting as the Vice President of our United States."

As for life heroes, Landrum Taylor gives credit to her mother and grandmother, while saluting working mothers in all pursuits of life.

"There are a lot of mothers that are presidents and CEO of their households as well," Landrum Taylor said.

And while she always knew there were those who were silently rooting against her, Taylor says she never let gender or race cloud her path to achieve and serve.