Should more women be running for office in Lethbridge?
Dozens of people lined up inside Lethbridge City Hall on Monday, filing paperwork to run in next month’s municipal election.
Three people registered to run for mayor and 29 filled out nomination forms to run for council, eight of them are women.
That’s enough women to fill all eight councillor spots on the next Lethbridge City Council, but with 21 men running, that’s not enough, according to political analyst Bonnie Farries.
“If women represent 50 per cent of the population, you would think that, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there was actually 50 per cent representation in government?'” Farries said.
Looking at other Alberta cities, Lethbridge is actually on the higher end.
In Medicine Hat, women represent four of the 19 candidates running for council. In Red Deer, seven of the 29 council candidates are women.
That’s concerning for Farries because she says women can bring a greater depth to decision making.
“At the municipal level I think this is even more crucial,” she said. “Municipal government provides quality of life, really, our services, about good water, good rec facilities, safety security, all of these things that I think you need to have good debate at the table.”
Outgoing councillor Bridget Mearns agrees.
“Women do have qualities that are different,” Mearns said. “They’re more collaborative, they’re more empathetic, more passionate.”
Mearns is at the end of her second term. In both terms she was one of two women on council. She is not running this year to finish her MBA in Executive Management and to “focus on professional development,” she said in a Facebook post last week.
One potential voter thinks having more women on council would bode well for the future.
“I think it’s nice to have a positive female influence that kids can look up to and see, ‘That’s possible for me to do’ and to not be afraid of challenging gender norms,” University of Lethbridge student Alison Wild said.
But for that to happen, Farries says certain viewpoints need to change.
“Women are treated differently and there are stereotypes that have to be factored in and I do think, speaking from my own experience and the women that I interact with, it’s just not worth it,” she said.
For the eight women who decided to put their names forward, they’ll find out on Oct. 16 if their efforts are rewarded.
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