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Carlsbad’s record number of women running for office

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include full transcripts from 10 of the 11 women interviewed for this article. Links to PDFs are located at the first reference of the candidate’s name.

CARLSBAD — Several national news outlets have claimed a “pink wave” is coming.

As more women are running in local, state and federal elections than ever before, Carlsbad is a prime example of the unprecedented rise in female candidates across the country.

From city positions such as mayor, council member and clerk to the Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees, 11 women are vying for those seats. In total, women represent 78½ percent of the candidates this year, compared to just three men.

Melanie Burkholder

Carlsbad elected the first woman, Lena Sutton, to the City Council in 1952 and later elected Mary Casler as the city’s first mayor in 1982, according to city documents.

In all, just 11 women have been elected to the City Council in the last 66 years.

This year, however, will see the list of women who are elected in competitive races grow by a minimum of one and possibly two, with the chance of the city’s second female mayor.

Priya Bhat-Patel and Corrine Busta are competing for the seat in District 3; and Linda Breen, Tracy Carmichael and Barbara Hamilton all running in District 1, with David McGee representing the lone-male candidate.

Veronica Williams

Councilwoman Cori Schumacher is running for mayor against incumbent Matt Hall. Barbara Engelson, meanwhile, is running unopposed for city clerk, and Craig Lindholm is also running unopposed for city treasurer.

Carlsbad Unified School District will elect a woman candiate in every race. Kathy Rallings and Claudine Jones are running unopposed, and Veronica Williams is being challenged by Melanie Burkholder.

And while 11 women in total are running for local elected office, many have said gender is not a qualifying factor. Instead, those candidates champion creativity, innovation and collaborative efforts, especially when it comes to philosophical or political ideological differences.

Schumacher said she believes many women are joining in response to a rise of several social movements.

Kathy Rallings

“I do feel that I am a part of an ongoing movement among women to enter elected leadership positions in the public sector,” the mayoral candidate said. “While this movement has been increasing over the years, this year in particular has seen a greater number of women running, coupled with increased attention paid by the media due to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.”

Burkholder, meanwhile, championed the fact women have more skin in the game. Whether it’s local politics, business or other industries, more women are rising through the ranks.

“I believe more women are involved in politics because we are more involved in general,” she said. “When female business owners like me have a stake in the game, we become more engaged with the leaders who develop policy that affect us.”

Claudine Jones

Bhat-Patel said women have been marginalized in many areas, including politics, but they are just as capable as their male counterparts in bringing fresh, innovative ideas to the table.

Additionally, many women in Carlsbad are running campaigns based on more transparency and local control. In some instances, those local control policies run counter from the state level and may run in opposition of a candidate’s party’s position.

Bhat-Patel, who will earn her doctorate degree in public health later this year, said it is important to listen to residents to ensure a high quality of life.

“Transparency is essential in any relationship and as an elected official I will be a champion of open government,” she explained. “Listening to residents’ concerns and making sure they are heard is the key.”

Barbara Hamilton

Tracy Carmichael, who is running for the City Council seat in District 1 against Linda Breen and Barbara Hamilton, said the movement is great for all women. And although she was elected to the Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees in the 1990s, she said these new voices will make a difference.

“It’s my belief women’s voices will resonate change though they must first recognize their own strength and confidence to make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities,” she said. “Today, I have found my internal strength to stand tall and I will make a difference.”

Hamilton said the strength of women comes from their willingness to collaborate and reach across party lines to find the best solution. Like Bhat-Patel and Breen, she also champions a more open government, yet said basic civility is missing from some of today’s current leaders.

“I feel that today some of these basic values are being undermined with the current political divisiveness among our leaders. I hardly recognize us at times,” Hamilton

Barbara Engleson


Breen, however, said she is not running due any movement, but because there is a need for people with principle to hold office. However, she is aware the #MeToo movement has been a powerful tool supporting more women for office, but her goal is to bring more “responsiveness” and “absolute integrity” to the city council.

“In the last couple of years, there has been an explosion of activism, with many first-time candidates,” she said, adding 80 percent of the council the past several years has been men. “At the same time, the ‘Me, too’ movement has empowered many women to speak out and to try to balance political power.”

Kathy Rallings, who is running unopposed in Area 5 for the school district’s board of trustees, said women are tired of being marginalized. However, she, like others, noted gender should not be the only qualifying factor for a candidate.

Tracy Carmichael

“I think women are seeing their issues dismissed and marginalized within the current system and they are asking themselves, ‘if not me, who?’ and ‘if not now, when?’” she rhetorically asked. “I applaud more women running for office, but I don’t think gender should be the only criteria women look for in a candidate. I do not believe their gender alone will help to improve upon the issues facing women today.”

Women in Carlsbad, and around the country, are becoming a more dominate and vocal voice in the political landscape.

According to a Bloomberg report in May 2018, 527 women ran in national congressional races, a 67-percent jump from 2016, while the New York Times reported last month a record 200 women won their House primaries.

In addition, 11 women won their gubernatorial races, a record according to Time magazine.

Linda Breen

City of Carlsbad


Incumbent Matt Hall and Councilwoman Cori Schumacher

District 1

Linda Breen, Tracy Carmichael, Barbara Hamilton and David McGee

Priya Bhat-Patel

District 3

Priya Bhat-Patel and Corrine Busta

City Clerk

Barbara Engleson (unopposed)

City Treasurer

Corrine Busta

Craig Lindholm (unopposed)

Carlsbad Unified

Area 1

Incumbent Veronica Williams and Dr. Melanie Burkholder

Area 4

Cori Schumacher

Claudine Jones (unopposed)

Area 5

Kathy Rallings (unopposed)


Addie September 20, 2018 at 9:28 am

Busta just took $1000 from Grand Pacific Resorts. Anyone who follows Carlsbad politics knows that Tim Stripe (Grand Pacific Resorts) is really calling the shots behind the scenes and owns Matt Hall. So if Busta gets a seat on the council, which Thank God is unlikely, she will be just as much of a shill as Hall has been for years.

SunriseRetiree September 15, 2018 at 8:21 am

Please include this full comment since whoever approving comments removed this sentence from my previous post. I find this utterly concerning, Coast News.

Regarding Corrine Busta, I feel very concerned that a potential city council member refused an invitation to the candidate forum and has a pattern of not engaging in conversations with residents. I understand if a scheduling conflict arises, but Busta has made limited to no public appearances and so far her campaign disclosures indicate large contributions almost exclusively from developers.

SunriseRetiree September 13, 2018 at 10:23 pm

Priya Bhat-Patel is one of the rare gems who has received bipartisan support from both Republican and Democratic residents.

Priya is smart, articulate, and hard-working. She comes across as a person who genuinely has Carlsbad in her heart (she grew up in Carlsbad and attended Aviara Oaks and Carlsbad High School). She’s undeniably the smart choice for Carlsbad.

Hillary September 10, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Addie calls Trump as “a Democrat from New York City and a supporter of the Clintons for many years?”. So is his party change for cynical political ends a defense for Hamilton? As far as Ms. Amador’s comment, she is not being “transparent.” Barbara is being managed by DEMCCO leaders such as Oceanside resident Amanda Mascia and Lisa McKethan. They recruited her to replace Mary Ann Viney, without checking if she bothers to vote in elections consistently. It is funny that Barbara appeared at her first DEMCCO meeting with a name badge. That never happens. Unless you are seeking an endorsement, and have two friends in the right places.

Addled September 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Barbara Hamilton running as a Democrat was done so her consultant could muscle an endorsement through Democratic circles. If you look hard enough on Facebook, you will find the ROV records that shows Barbara wants to be on City Council,. but only occasionally casts a vote in elections. Including last June. That failure to carry out the Job #1 of being a citizen is a deal breaker.

Addie September 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Let’s return to the original post. Busta just got money from Summerhill Apartments of San Ramon, CA. Now why would that be happening?

Commish September 9, 2018 at 12:06 am

My greatest concern about Ms. Hamilton changing parties is that she did it on the same day she filed to run for Carlsbad City Council. Coincidentally, she was recruited to run by members of the Democratic Club of Carlsbad & Oceanside (DEMCCO).

Trump has changed political parties at least 5 times since the late 80s. He has been a Republican, Democrat and an Independent.

Pat Amador September 9, 2018 at 4:31 pm

Demcco has not recruited anyone to run for office. I am a member and at no time has such a thing occurred. You demean a woman’s decision to run for office and with which party affiliation.

Addie September 7, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Agreed. But then again wasn’t Trump a Democrat from New York city and a supporter of the Clintons for many years?

Commish September 7, 2018 at 12:45 pm

The voting records also proved to be of value.

Barbara Hamilton, who is running for City Council District 1, changed from a Republican to a Democrat on the day she filed to run for city council. (This during a time period when so many people are leaving the Republican party due to Donald Trump’s presidency.) Trump has been in office since January 2017 after being elected in Nov 2016. So why wait so long to leave the Republican party?

Political parties are not necessarily important to local races. But when a longterm Republican changes to the Democratic party on the day she files for a local race, one has to wonder why.

addled September 7, 2018 at 11:01 am

Regardless of gender what people need to pay attention to is to whom the candidate is connected to. Corinne Schumacher, Priya Bhat-Patel, and Barbara Hamilton are the slate the Democratic Party apparatus is running in what always has been a bi-partisan town. They are running their operation out of an office on Laguna, with the machine candidateTasha Boerner-Horvath for Assembly.

Addie September 7, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Bipartisan? What kind of medications have you been abusing to make you so “addled”? Carlsbad has been controlled by Republicans and Rotary people (and funded by hotel owners and developers not to mention the Lincoln Club of SD and the Tony Krvaric maching) for years. The winds of change are blowing. And Cori’s office is right here in Carlsbad. Priya is also an entirely LOCAL campaign. Nice try spreading lies. You might also want to proofread next time (“on” Laguna??? “to” whom and then another preposition “to” end the sentence???)

Addie September 6, 2018 at 10:08 am

Regardless of gender what people need to pay attention to is to whom the candidate is beholden ie who is donating money to his or her campaign. I strongly urge all Carlsbad citizens to go to the city’s website and do a thorough review of the Campaign Finance Disclosures for each and every candidate for public office. It is very enlightening. Spin the details however you like but the facts are there and speak volumes about what one can expect if this person is elected.

Comments are closed.