More women need to run for municipal office.
That’s the message of the #ReadyForHer campaign as Alberta’s Status of Women Minister is currently on a four city tour sharing that sentiment ahead of the 2017 Municipal Elections.
It rings true here in Lacombe, with only one woman letting her name stand on the ballot in the 2013 election, she wasn’t elected, leaving 7 men at the Council table.
Outi Kite served two terms as a Councillor in Lacombe, first elected in 2007, her 2nd term she was the only female voice at the table, she explains some of the key strengths she thinks women bring to the decision making process “women have a different perspective, even approaching life in general. I think that we bring social conscience to the conversation, we probably look at more of the impact the decisions will have on people individually, organizations and the community as a whole rather than the legalities, statistics, etc. We look at long term consequences, I think we think more in detail than the men do, we are more analytical and that’s a good thing”.
For Mayor Steve Christie who has served alongside women for his whole career in municipal politics with the exception of this one, he admits, it’s a different dynamic this term “men and women we think differently, and the more angles that we can look at things, the different perspectives coming from men and women are important to proper decision making”.
Kite says a lot of women shy away from the role because of the time commitment “for me personally, I only had 2 children at home at that time, I didn’t have any toddlers or babies. It definitely is a time commitment, I would say anywhere from 15-20 hours a week depending on how many committees you sit on, but you have an option to look at what can you do and what committees can you take on”.
Christie says social media has also influenced the decision of many to run “a lot of things are discussed through social media, whether it be good or bad, a lot of that influences people as well. Some of the back and forth and some of the issues on social media why would anybody want to put up with that when they are the caretakers of the home, looking after children, they have enough on their plate now, why would they take on that type of thing”.
As for Kite, she never dreamed she would serve the community in that capacity, but she’s glad a former Councillor encouraged her to take the leap of faith, as it was an experience she found really rewarding “for me it gave me the opportunity to make all sorts of connections and network with people all across the province, including provincial and federal government staff and politicians. It definitely broadened by horizons as far as what we can do on a municipal level to be of influence and how things generally run, you know the process we go through to try and make a change happen”.
In the 2013 municipal elections, Albertans elected women to 490 of 1,874 positions, an average of 26 per cent.
The next municipal election is set for October 16th, 2017.