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Women helping women become successful politicians

The big thing the Campaign School for Women did for Linda Carder was to give her confidence she could win an election.

''I'd run before for school trustee--and lost,'' Mrs. Carder said. ''Then I saw this ad in the newspaper about the school and decided to give it a try.''

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The next year she ran again. This time she defeated the incumbent. Now she's not only a school trustee on the neighboring Durham School Board, but she is on the executive board of the Ontario School Trustees Association.

The campaign school is really a series of weekend workshops arranged whenever a municipal election is in the offing. It's run by a group called Women for Political Action, which has been active here for a decade.

It's held in a local hotel, and those who come are women who want to find out how they can be successful politicians.

Besides learning such things as how to handle themselves in an interview and how to deliver a two-minute speech that packs punch, they also get to rub shoulders with women who have made it in the political arena.

For instance, the last time the school was in session, three women mayors from nearby communities described what it's like to hold office, and explained some of the financial outlay it entails.

Mayor Gayle Christie of the borough of York receives a $50,000 salary and Mayor Hazel McCallion of Mississauga gets $30,000. Both agreed they probably earn less than minimum wage in terms of hours spent on the job.

Mrs. Christie figures she works an 18- to 19-hour day while Mrs. McCallion puts her workweek at between 60 and 70 hours. Mrs. McCallion held up a couple of rings that had been broken ''from handshaking,'' as evidence of the scars of the trade.

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Both find being mayor an exciting experience, but agreed that it does cost money. In seven months in office Mrs. Christie found it necessary to spend $625 on new shoes, and she paid $15,000 out of her own pocket on her last campaign. Mrs. McCallion said $20,000 of her personal funds were used up in her campaign.

Mayor Margaret Britnell of King Township does her own housework, as does Mayor McCallion. The three said their families figure prominently in their election campaigns. Mrs. McCallion's three children, the youngest of whom is 19, ''go out and work their fingers to the bone'' at election time.

Each of the mayors had advice for any woman who decides to run for office:

''Never mention your opponent's name, because you're giving him publicity when you do that,'' Mrs. McCallion said.

''Knock on every door when you're campaigning,'' advised Mrs. Christie.

Mrs. Britnell said women have natural qualities that serve them well in politics. ''They have a lot of common sense. They run homes and know how to handle a budget. They don't spend money unwisely.''

Toward the end of this year the municipal elections will be taking place once again, and already Women for Political Action is swinging into even more extended plans for its campaign school. For the first time, in May, there will be a special beginners' session for the political neophytes.

According to statistics there were 452 candidates in the 1980 municipal elections in Metropolitan Toronto which embraces the boroughs of Toronto, York, Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke, and East York. Of this total 114 were women; 191 candidates were elected, of which 54 were women.

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