A Stong Female Voice for Staten Island
By Clifford Michel
An energetic New York State Senator took the stage at the College of Staten Island’s Lecture Hall on April 24 and discussed women’s issues in the world of politics and labor.
Diane Savino, who represents the northern part of Staten Island and the southern end of Brooklyn, was the featured speaker.
Savino spoke at length about her history working in labor unions, political organizations, and eventually her rise to the New York State Senate.
Savino spoke about the difficulty of being a leader and a woman in a field that has been historically dominated by males.
“I realized that there were not a lot of women in the labor movement, in fact if you were to go to the Central Labor Council, I often time would be the only woman in the room,” said Savino. “But rarely were women recognized.”
After successfully striking against city government in her days as a caseworker, Savino joined the labor movement and rose to take charge of her union’s political actions. After years at the top level of New York State unions, she was tapped by Governor David Patterson to run for State Senate.
Savino commented on the need for women to feel empowered internally, to institutional restrictions.
“Sometimes it’s not so much the challenges that come at us, it’s sometimes the challenges we receive within ourselves,” Savino said. “For example when I was recruited, my initial reaction was: me?”
It was only on the campaign trail that Savino said she realized she was more than capable of running and winning the election.
Savino also told students to not worry if they don’t find a career path straight out of college and take advantage of whatever opportunities open up.
“Don’t be so rigid, that you think if you deviate from what your plan was then you’re a failure,” Savino said. “Don’t be afraid, find out where you’re effective.”
The State Senator of 10 years opened the floor to students who asked her a wide range of questions ranging from how best to get involved in politics to bridging the gender gap.
Later on, Savino didn’t shy away from making an endorsement for the 2016 presidential race.
“I’m supporting Hillary. I was a Hillary delegate in 2008 and I will be a Hillary delegate again. I think Hillary Clinton is going to make an amazing President and we are certainly ready for her,” said Savino.
“And I know who her running mate will be,” Savino joked. “It’ll be a guy.”