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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Sarah Sheahan slams right-wing extremism: ‘Just call it what it is’

Sofia Stavins
Sarah Leonard Sheahan speaking in front of the Women’s Political Committee about her take on the right wing narrative on March 31. Sheahan shared her personal experiences to a crowd at SOhO Restaurant and Music Bar in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Noted campaign advisor and communications strategist Sarah Leonard Sheahan spoke to the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee at the 18th President Circle luncheon about her personal experience with the right-wing narrative on Friday, March 31 at SOhO Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara. 

Hands clapped and people cheered as Paula Lopez, the president of the committee, walked onto the stage and welcomed all who joined and prepped the podium for Sheahan. She explained that the committee’s role since 1987 has been to endorse candidates who support their goals and promote a feminist agenda.

“We need to protect our feminist rights and values and our speaker is going to help us navigate the right wing attack and how to combat that,” Lopez said. 

Shortly after Lopez left the stage, Hannah-Beth Jackson, former member of the California State Senate began to speak. After cracking a few jokes she discussed the major campaigns and administrations Sheahan had worked on which include Tom Harkin’s as his press secretary in his reelection campaign, Howard Dean’s as his national spokesperson, Barack Obama’s as one of his advisors, Antonio Villaraigosa’s as a deputy mayor in Los Angeles, and the Hillary Clinton’s as an advisor.  

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“She comes to us with an enormous amount of experience,” Jackson said. 

Sheahan was welcomed on stage by Jackson as the two switched spots and Sheahan began her speech. 

“The level of political violence in this country is at a point that I don’t think we have seen before; right-wing extremism has taken on a completely different tone,”  the activist said. 

She described having her first experience with right wing extremism in the summer of 2002 when she worked for Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. Seeing a Republican who was pro-gun, had extremist Christian values, and stood against taxes win against the Democratic candidate who she was campaigning for changed her mindset. 

“This was a sign of things to come,” Sheahan said. 

The topic shifted to news media and how it has changed over the years by bringing in more truth to what is being reported.

Sheahan worked with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass on her campaign.

“Working with her really refounded my appreciation for the local news media,”  she said. 

Throughout the campaign with Bass, many people questioned if Sheahan would have what it would take as a woman to get the job done. Despite this, Bass was able to defeat a white Republican male candidate who was a billionaire. 

“I heard you guys wanted to talk about right-wing extremism and I gave it a lot of thought and came to the conclusion of let’s just call it what it is. It is racism, it is sexism, and it is anti-semitism,” the young political advisor said.  

The crowd clapped and cheered one last time while Sheahan walked off stage as she thanked the committee for having her.

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