More females running for Hamilton council

News Aug 12, 2018 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Stoney Creek Coun. Maria Pearson has always been in the minority around a council table.

A former city of Stoney Creek councillor, Pearson has been representing Stoney Creek in the amalgamated city of Hamilton since 2003.

She was one of three female councillors — the others were Andrea Horwath in Ward 2 and Flamborough’s Margaret McCarthy — who were elected in the 2003 municipal election from the 59 candidates seeking office.

Altogether, there were six female candidates in the 2003 municipal election, and none running for mayor.

“I’m proud to be a woman,” said Pearson. “But I have never run because I was a woman. I thought I could do the job. It’s not easy. You need a strong backbone.”

This year, Pearson is one of 31 women running for local office out of 104 candidates, the most in Hamilton’s post-amalgamation history. She is also one of four female incumbents along with Flamborough’s Judi Partridge, Dundas’s Arlene VanderBeek and Glanbrook’s Brenda Johnson seeking reelection. Donna Skelly had served on council for Ward 7, but she resigned after becoming Flamborough-Glanbrook's MPP in June.

Women compose over 52 per cent of Canada’s population. Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to political office, states that women compose 29 per cent of Canadian MPPs and 26 per cent of MPs, a lower number of female politicians than in most of Europe, parts of Africa and Australia.

This year there are two women — Nathalie Xian Yi Yan, who has previously run for council seats over the years, and Ute Schmid-Jones, who has run in the federal election as a Green party candidate — campaigning for mayor.

Yi Yan said she is running not just because she is a female, but that she believes the city should have an entrepreneur running Hamilton.

“It is said academically that females have many advantages and strengths that are better than men,” she said. “But eventually I believe the passion for the city and someone who really cares is a major thing. I love the people.”

Schmid-Jones said it’s time Hamilton had a female mayor.

“I’m surprised that only two women came forward in this 2018 mayoral race and I’m very proud to be one of them,” she said.

Schmid-Jones said women have been under-represented in leadership positions in Canada. Yet women, she said, are creative, offer innovative solutions and have a “well-developed sense of maternal respect and inclusivity to the council, city planning teams and committees.”

She said a female mayor “has the potential to raise the vibration of Hamilton’s present economic and cultural renaissance …”

When asked if she thinks it's time Hamilton elects a female mayor, something the city has never had, Pearson thinks for a moment.

“I think so,” said Pearson. “But it won’t be me. I have never thought about (running for mayor.)”

Denise Christopherson, co-chair of the Women in Leadership Committee and executive director of the local YWCA, applauds the progress that women have made venturing into leadership positions in Hamilton, including in this year’s election campaign.

“It’s very exciting,” she said.

Christopherson — who credits local organizers that have been encouraging women to run for political office for the higher number of women in this year’s election — said voting evidence reveals that if a good female candidate seeks political office, they are successful at the ballot box.

She said with a number of open seats in wards 1, 3, 7, and 8, Hamilton will see some new faces around the council table. In fact, Ward 15 is guaranteed to elect a female councillor with incumbent Judi Partridge facing off against Susan McKechnie.

The ultimate goal, said Christopherson, would be to see Hamilton residents elect a female mayor.

“That would be really nice to see,” she said.

McMaster University political science professor Karen Bird, who has studied ethnic and gender diversity, said she is cautiously optimistic about the rising number of women seeking political office in Hamilton. But while it is an improvement, having 31 women out of 104 candidates is still less than 30 per cent.

Bird agrees with Christopherson that the best way to elect more women is to have more open ward elections without an incumbent who usually dominates the race. Female candidates do as well or even better in elections than males, she said.

“Incumbents have a huge advantage,” she said.

Although, in an unusual political outcome, current Ward 11 Coun. Brenda Johnson upset longtime incumbent David Mitchell in the 2010 election.

Another issue, said Bird, is there isn’t enough women, especially women of colour, running for political office.

“I did find a penalty for visible minority candidates at the voting booth,” said Bird. “We do not know whether this is due to voter bias, or whether visible minority candidates have fewer resources when they run or a combination of both.

Christopherson said women have to consider more factors than men to seek political office, since they usually have additional responsibilities to their families and careers.

“Women are still the main caregivers,” she said.

Another roadblock for female politicians that Bird and Christopherson mentioned is men usually have better opportunities to raise money than women to run a successful campaign.

Bird cites a lack of election information at the municipal level for voters as another hindrance to female politicians. And with the demise of local newspapers that in the past highlighted municipal candidates, “voters get less information about competing candidates” and rely on name recognition, said Bird.

“This tends to reduce voter turnout and it also tends to help incumbents get re-elected,” she said.

Bird suggests the municipality invest in voter education by providing more candidate information to electors, as well as somehow revising the ward boundaries to create additional open seats.

Christopherson said once councillors are elected, they need to start making decisions for the betterment of all people, not just one portion of it, which is usually male-dominated.

The goal, she said, is to see that Hamilton’s municipal government makes its decisions through a gender lens. Issues such as housing, transit, roads, recreation would be reviewed not only by how it would impact the local neighbourhood, environment, or land uses, but also how it affects women and other people.

“I know (Hamilton) is exploring it,” said Christopherson. “And we know it’s going to take baby steps.”

It's time Hamilton had a female mayor, say candidates

News Aug 12, 2018 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Stoney Creek Coun. Maria Pearson has always been in the minority around a council table.

A former city of Stoney Creek councillor, Pearson has been representing Stoney Creek in the amalgamated city of Hamilton since 2003.

She was one of three female councillors — the others were Andrea Horwath in Ward 2 and Flamborough’s Margaret McCarthy — who were elected in the 2003 municipal election from the 59 candidates seeking office.

Altogether, there were six female candidates in the 2003 municipal election, and none running for mayor.

“I’m proud to be a woman,” said Pearson. “But I have never run because I was a woman. I thought I could do the job. It’s not easy. You need a strong backbone.”

This year, Pearson is one of 31 women running for local office out of 104 candidates, the most in Hamilton’s post-amalgamation history. She is also one of four female incumbents along with Flamborough’s Judi Partridge, Dundas’s Arlene VanderBeek and Glanbrook’s Brenda Johnson seeking reelection. Donna Skelly had served on council for Ward 7, but she resigned after becoming Flamborough-Glanbrook's MPP in June.

Women compose over 52 per cent of Canada’s population. Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to political office, states that women compose 29 per cent of Canadian MPPs and 26 per cent of MPs, a lower number of female politicians than in most of Europe, parts of Africa and Australia.

This year there are two women — Nathalie Xian Yi Yan, who has previously run for council seats over the years, and Ute Schmid-Jones, who has run in the federal election as a Green party candidate — campaigning for mayor.

Yi Yan said she is running not just because she is a female, but that she believes the city should have an entrepreneur running Hamilton.

“It is said academically that females have many advantages and strengths that are better than men,” she said. “But eventually I believe the passion for the city and someone who really cares is a major thing. I love the people.”

Schmid-Jones said it’s time Hamilton had a female mayor.

“I’m surprised that only two women came forward in this 2018 mayoral race and I’m very proud to be one of them,” she said.

Schmid-Jones said women have been under-represented in leadership positions in Canada. Yet women, she said, are creative, offer innovative solutions and have a “well-developed sense of maternal respect and inclusivity to the council, city planning teams and committees.”

She said a female mayor “has the potential to raise the vibration of Hamilton’s present economic and cultural renaissance …”

When asked if she thinks it's time Hamilton elects a female mayor, something the city has never had, Pearson thinks for a moment.

“I think so,” said Pearson. “But it won’t be me. I have never thought about (running for mayor.)”

Denise Christopherson, co-chair of the Women in Leadership Committee and executive director of the local YWCA, applauds the progress that women have made venturing into leadership positions in Hamilton, including in this year’s election campaign.

“It’s very exciting,” she said.

Christopherson — who credits local organizers that have been encouraging women to run for political office for the higher number of women in this year’s election — said voting evidence reveals that if a good female candidate seeks political office, they are successful at the ballot box.

She said with a number of open seats in wards 1, 3, 7, and 8, Hamilton will see some new faces around the council table. In fact, Ward 15 is guaranteed to elect a female councillor with incumbent Judi Partridge facing off against Susan McKechnie.

The ultimate goal, said Christopherson, would be to see Hamilton residents elect a female mayor.

“That would be really nice to see,” she said.

McMaster University political science professor Karen Bird, who has studied ethnic and gender diversity, said she is cautiously optimistic about the rising number of women seeking political office in Hamilton. But while it is an improvement, having 31 women out of 104 candidates is still less than 30 per cent.

Bird agrees with Christopherson that the best way to elect more women is to have more open ward elections without an incumbent who usually dominates the race. Female candidates do as well or even better in elections than males, she said.

“Incumbents have a huge advantage,” she said.

Although, in an unusual political outcome, current Ward 11 Coun. Brenda Johnson upset longtime incumbent David Mitchell in the 2010 election.

Another issue, said Bird, is there isn’t enough women, especially women of colour, running for political office.

“I did find a penalty for visible minority candidates at the voting booth,” said Bird. “We do not know whether this is due to voter bias, or whether visible minority candidates have fewer resources when they run or a combination of both.

Christopherson said women have to consider more factors than men to seek political office, since they usually have additional responsibilities to their families and careers.

“Women are still the main caregivers,” she said.

Another roadblock for female politicians that Bird and Christopherson mentioned is men usually have better opportunities to raise money than women to run a successful campaign.

Bird cites a lack of election information at the municipal level for voters as another hindrance to female politicians. And with the demise of local newspapers that in the past highlighted municipal candidates, “voters get less information about competing candidates” and rely on name recognition, said Bird.

“This tends to reduce voter turnout and it also tends to help incumbents get re-elected,” she said.

Bird suggests the municipality invest in voter education by providing more candidate information to electors, as well as somehow revising the ward boundaries to create additional open seats.

Christopherson said once councillors are elected, they need to start making decisions for the betterment of all people, not just one portion of it, which is usually male-dominated.

The goal, she said, is to see that Hamilton’s municipal government makes its decisions through a gender lens. Issues such as housing, transit, roads, recreation would be reviewed not only by how it would impact the local neighbourhood, environment, or land uses, but also how it affects women and other people.

“I know (Hamilton) is exploring it,” said Christopherson. “And we know it’s going to take baby steps.”

It's time Hamilton had a female mayor, say candidates

News Aug 12, 2018 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Stoney Creek Coun. Maria Pearson has always been in the minority around a council table.

A former city of Stoney Creek councillor, Pearson has been representing Stoney Creek in the amalgamated city of Hamilton since 2003.

She was one of three female councillors — the others were Andrea Horwath in Ward 2 and Flamborough’s Margaret McCarthy — who were elected in the 2003 municipal election from the 59 candidates seeking office.

Altogether, there were six female candidates in the 2003 municipal election, and none running for mayor.

“I’m proud to be a woman,” said Pearson. “But I have never run because I was a woman. I thought I could do the job. It’s not easy. You need a strong backbone.”

This year, Pearson is one of 31 women running for local office out of 104 candidates, the most in Hamilton’s post-amalgamation history. She is also one of four female incumbents along with Flamborough’s Judi Partridge, Dundas’s Arlene VanderBeek and Glanbrook’s Brenda Johnson seeking reelection. Donna Skelly had served on council for Ward 7, but she resigned after becoming Flamborough-Glanbrook's MPP in June.

Women compose over 52 per cent of Canada’s population. Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to political office, states that women compose 29 per cent of Canadian MPPs and 26 per cent of MPs, a lower number of female politicians than in most of Europe, parts of Africa and Australia.

This year there are two women — Nathalie Xian Yi Yan, who has previously run for council seats over the years, and Ute Schmid-Jones, who has run in the federal election as a Green party candidate — campaigning for mayor.

Yi Yan said she is running not just because she is a female, but that she believes the city should have an entrepreneur running Hamilton.

“It is said academically that females have many advantages and strengths that are better than men,” she said. “But eventually I believe the passion for the city and someone who really cares is a major thing. I love the people.”

Schmid-Jones said it’s time Hamilton had a female mayor.

“I’m surprised that only two women came forward in this 2018 mayoral race and I’m very proud to be one of them,” she said.

Schmid-Jones said women have been under-represented in leadership positions in Canada. Yet women, she said, are creative, offer innovative solutions and have a “well-developed sense of maternal respect and inclusivity to the council, city planning teams and committees.”

She said a female mayor “has the potential to raise the vibration of Hamilton’s present economic and cultural renaissance …”

When asked if she thinks it's time Hamilton elects a female mayor, something the city has never had, Pearson thinks for a moment.

“I think so,” said Pearson. “But it won’t be me. I have never thought about (running for mayor.)”

Denise Christopherson, co-chair of the Women in Leadership Committee and executive director of the local YWCA, applauds the progress that women have made venturing into leadership positions in Hamilton, including in this year’s election campaign.

“It’s very exciting,” she said.

Christopherson — who credits local organizers that have been encouraging women to run for political office for the higher number of women in this year’s election — said voting evidence reveals that if a good female candidate seeks political office, they are successful at the ballot box.

She said with a number of open seats in wards 1, 3, 7, and 8, Hamilton will see some new faces around the council table. In fact, Ward 15 is guaranteed to elect a female councillor with incumbent Judi Partridge facing off against Susan McKechnie.

The ultimate goal, said Christopherson, would be to see Hamilton residents elect a female mayor.

“That would be really nice to see,” she said.

McMaster University political science professor Karen Bird, who has studied ethnic and gender diversity, said she is cautiously optimistic about the rising number of women seeking political office in Hamilton. But while it is an improvement, having 31 women out of 104 candidates is still less than 30 per cent.

Bird agrees with Christopherson that the best way to elect more women is to have more open ward elections without an incumbent who usually dominates the race. Female candidates do as well or even better in elections than males, she said.

“Incumbents have a huge advantage,” she said.

Although, in an unusual political outcome, current Ward 11 Coun. Brenda Johnson upset longtime incumbent David Mitchell in the 2010 election.

Another issue, said Bird, is there isn’t enough women, especially women of colour, running for political office.

“I did find a penalty for visible minority candidates at the voting booth,” said Bird. “We do not know whether this is due to voter bias, or whether visible minority candidates have fewer resources when they run or a combination of both.

Christopherson said women have to consider more factors than men to seek political office, since they usually have additional responsibilities to their families and careers.

“Women are still the main caregivers,” she said.

Another roadblock for female politicians that Bird and Christopherson mentioned is men usually have better opportunities to raise money than women to run a successful campaign.

Bird cites a lack of election information at the municipal level for voters as another hindrance to female politicians. And with the demise of local newspapers that in the past highlighted municipal candidates, “voters get less information about competing candidates” and rely on name recognition, said Bird.

“This tends to reduce voter turnout and it also tends to help incumbents get re-elected,” she said.

Bird suggests the municipality invest in voter education by providing more candidate information to electors, as well as somehow revising the ward boundaries to create additional open seats.

Christopherson said once councillors are elected, they need to start making decisions for the betterment of all people, not just one portion of it, which is usually male-dominated.

The goal, she said, is to see that Hamilton’s municipal government makes its decisions through a gender lens. Issues such as housing, transit, roads, recreation would be reviewed not only by how it would impact the local neighbourhood, environment, or land uses, but also how it affects women and other people.

“I know (Hamilton) is exploring it,” said Christopherson. “And we know it’s going to take baby steps.”