Party Chairs Barnett and Mungioli Share Wisdom with Women

Party Chairs Barnett and Mungioli Share Wisdom with Women

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 17, 2018)

Bloomfield Township, MI – In Oakland County, both the Republican and Democratic parties have a woman as the Chairperson.  This gave the members of the non-partisan Women Officials Network the chance learn from both Democratic Chair Vicki Barnett and Republican Chair Theresa Mungioli at their quarterly networking meeting last week.

Mungioli served for eight years on the Rochester Schools Board of Education and was Precinct Delegate for 18 years.  She works as a Certified Project Manager.

Barnett was a State Representative from 2009-2014. She’s also served on Farmington Hills City Council and as Mayor.  She also served as the President of the Michigan Municipal League.

“I’ve been involved in Democratic party politics the better part of 30 years,” Barnett said.  “I have never seen the coming out of women to run as I have in the last two years.”

Mungioli said that Republicans are recruiting “qualified candidates regardless of their gender,” while Barnett talked about how efforts to recruit female candidates have been successful.  She noted recent victories for Emerge Michigan-trained candidates in Royal Oak, Novi, Farmington, Farmington Hills and Hazel Park where, she said, “the top two were women running for their first time.”

Both candidates told stories about their husbands.  Barnett met hers at the 1980 Republican Convention where “he was a labor attorney and I was crashing the party,” she said.

Mungioli said her husband ran for Democratic precinct delegate.  “So I come from a mixed marriage,” she said.  “It makes for interesting conversation at the dinner table.”

Campaigning had lessons for both women.  Mungioli said she learned to define her own image rather than let others define it for her.

“When I got involved in politics I was a stay at home mom.  Before there was the internet I would go through the paper budgets for the district,” Mungioli said.  “The local paper labeled me as a conservative.  I called the reporter and asked why.  They said ‘You’re talking about fiscal responsibility, so you’re a conservative.’  If you don’t know your brand, someone else will label you.”

She recalled another challenging part of campaigning.  “Someone on the bus told my kid ‘My parents aren’t voting for your mom,” she said.

Barnett said she couldn’t think of anything she would have done differently.  “Everything I’ve done, whether it turned out well or not well, has taught me lessons,” she said.

Barnett said she most enjoyed being Mayor because of the closeness to the community. “It’s rewarding to have your family say they’re not going to the grocery store with you because you can’t get through the store because you have people to talk to,” Barnett said.

Mungoli advised the women in the audience to “trust your gut.”

“You’ll be in situations where you’ll feel like ‘oh, something’s not right.’ Listen to that,” she said.

Barnett’s advice was to know how to ask for money when campaigning.  “People who will give you a dollar will give you a vote,” she said.  “You’re not begging for money. They’re investing in your community and your abilities.”

The Women Officials Network “is dedicated to encouraging women to become involved in public policy through elected and appointed office. WON provides networking opportunities for women officials and presents training to inspire and empower current and future policy makers,” according to their website.

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Find other WON-related stories on Oakland County Times HERE.

Note: this article was updated to correct a quote by Vicki Barnett.

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