MNL en­cour­ag­ing more women to run for of­fice

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - FRONT PAGE - BY EVAN CAREEN

With a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion com­ing up this fall peo­ple have been an­nounc­ing their in­ten­tions to run for coun­cils across the prov­ince.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador pres­i­dent Karen Old­ford said she would like to see more women take a place at the coun­cil ta­ble.

Old­ford, who is the mayor of Labrador City, said it’s some­thing she’s been work­ing on for years and MNL has been en­cour­ag­ing women to run for of­fice long be­fore her time as pres­i­dent.

Old­fold is cur­rently in­volved with the Mark Your Mark cam­paign, which is en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple gen­er­ally, and woman specif­i­cally, to run for coun­cil po­si­tions within the prov­ince.

Many women have a skill set they of­ten do not value when it comes of run­ning and or­ga­niz­ing fam­i­lies and keep­ing ev­ery­thing go­ing, she said.

“Whether or not they’re in the work­place or a stay-at-home mom, they’re jug­gling many dif­fer­ent re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and try­ing to dis­cover the best way to in­vest and pro­vide the best choices for their fam­ily, and on and on and on,” she said. “So when it comes to trans­fer­able skills, many have them in spades be­cause mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils deal with a broad range of top­ics and you’re al­ways pri­or­i­tiz­ing and look­ing at how you can try to ac­com­mo­date every­body for the greater good.”

Old­ford said mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics is a jug­gling act and women are used to do­ing that with their fam­i­lies, and or­ga­niz­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, even if they don’t al­ways rec­og­nize it be­cause it may not be a for­mal type of ed­u­ca­tion or for­mal ex­pe­ri­ence in the work­place in a

pro­fes­sion that uses those skills on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“Re­search has cer­tainly proven for many years now that women bring so much to the ta­ble be­cause they are so used to look­ing af­ter the wel­fare of every­one around them and find­ing that bal­ance,” she said. “If you ed­u­cate a woman, you ed­u­cate a fam­ily is re­ally how it goes in the world.”

In an ideal world, coun­cil ta­bles would look very much

like a cross sec­tion of the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing men and women, re­tirees and work­ing cit­i­zens, busi­ness peo­ple and em­ploy­ees, Old­ford said. Mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils ide­ally work to­gether to make the best de­ci­sions for the res­i­dents, so as a mayor her vote is no dif­fer­ent from any coun­cil­lor around the ta­ble.

“I do not have a veto. I do not have any ex­tra­or­di­nary pow­ers un­less there is a state of emer­gency. I can call that and ap­point peo­ple to com­mit­tees. Other than that, that’s the end of my au­thor­ity – no dif­fer­ent from any other coun­cil­lor,” Old­ford said. “It re­ally is a team. When you look at mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, it works to­gether for the greater good of your com­mu­nity, to try to make it a place where every­one wants to live, work and play. You want to leave it bet­ter for the next gen­er­a­tions to come. It’s a labour of love.”

She said one of the things they’re learn­ing from Make Your Mark is there seems to be more women in­volved in mu­nic­i­pal pol­i­tics out­side the Avalon Penin­sula and in the smaller com­mu­ni­ties than in some of the larger ur­ban towns.

Old­ford said they are not re­ally sure why that is the case but pointed out that in the City of St. John’s, which is one of the old­est mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince, there have only been four women elected to mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil.

“I was quite shocked about that. There’s a lot more work we need to do so that women can see them­selves in these roles,” she said.

FILE PHOTO

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador pres­i­dent Karen Old­ford

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