A group of Albertans wants women to step up to the plate. They want more women to run in the fall municipal elections.
Elected officials should reflect the populations they serve. Women represent about half of the population, yet they make up only 25 per cent of those elected to municipal councils. That figure is closely reflected in federal politics where women hold just 26 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons.
In any election, having choice is a good thing. Encouraging more women to run for office is one way to provide more choices, because currently women are under-represented on the ballot. In the last municipal election men outnumbered women 13 to 3 on the St. Albert ballot for city council. In Morinville men outnumbered women 11 to 5. In Sturgeon County it was 18 male and three female candidates.
Part of the problem is many women don’t see themselves as capable or qualified. Even Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes, admitted she was surprised to get elected when she ran for council seven years ago. And yet she proved she was more than capable. In 2015 she became the voice for Alberta municipalities when she was acclaimed as president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
“Politics is a fantastic place to serve and see your ideas come to fruition,” said Holmes. She is one of only two women on Morinville’s seven-person council. In St. Albert there are two women in seven positions on city council, and Sturgeon County council has two females and five males.
Holmes was one of four female panellists who spoke at Government House on Monday in an effort to show women they have the skills and to share their experience and tips. Holmes has announced she will not run in the fall election.
The panel discussion, broadcast live online, was the last in a series of panels organized by the Status of Women of Alberta as part of the Ready For Her initiative. The campaign is a series of videos and guides meant to encourage women to run in the fall municipal election and to let women know what to expect.
Panellists shared information about how to fundraise, how to create teams of supporters that share your core values, and what workload to expect.
Alberta Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean, one of the panelists, said women think they are not skilled enough to run for office, but that is not true.
Campaigning for office starts with community involvement, and women are already volunteering and serving on boards and committees, said McLean.
All the tips from panellists will be helpful to candidates, but the real value is just the encouragement from women who have done the job passing the torch to others.
Holmes said politics has been the most rewarding job in her life, as it lets her make changes that will affect her kids.
“Your community needs you,” Holmes said.
Ultimately we need both good female and good male candidates who have something to offer their communities.