Ashley Bennett had never run for office before. But when a local politician made a sexist joke, she decided to try to unseat him.
John Carman, a Republican member of the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, a county legislative body in New Jersey, posted a meme on his Facebook page in January making fun of the Women’s March. “Will the woman’s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?” it read, according to Amy S. Rosenberg at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Dozens of women showed up at a January freeholder meeting to confront Carman. One brought a box of macaroni and cheese and told Carman to “cook his own damn dinner,” Rosenberg reports. Carman refused to apologize, saying, “the women I’m surrounded by, my family, my friends, my colleagues are all strong, confident women, women who are sure of themselves. They didn’t get offended by this.”
Bennett, a psychiatric emergency screener, attended the meeting but walked out when she heard Carman’s response. “I walked out because you had the entire time to sit and collect your thoughts, and hear what people were saying, and instead of apologizing and saying you could do better, you disrespect people and say the people you surround yourself are strong,” she said at the time. “There are a lot of people who are strong.”
And Bennett, a Democrat, decided to take action. She ran for Carman’s seat on the board, becoming part of a wave of women running for office following the 2016 election. On Tuesday, she defeated Carman, who had also angered constituents when he was photographed wearing a patch depicting the state of New Jersey partially covered by a confederate flag.