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Today at 13:58

A small step

By Leith Dunick
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THUNDER BAY -- Judy Davies would love to see a city council split evenly between men and women.

But with just eight females running next month, she knows she faces an uphill battle. Davies, co-chair of the Women in Politics committee, said they’ve been working for a year to encourage more women to join the male-dominated local political fray.

With three more women running in 2014 than in 2010, it’s a small step, but one worth noting, she said.

“We believe we need more women elected,” she said.

“Currently there are only two women elected on council and we’re hoping that we’ll have 50 per cent of the seats filled with women.”

The group has held several forums over the past 12 months, inviting the likes of former Ontario Liberal leader Lyn McLeod to speak to prospective candidates. In March they held an election school and on Thursday they ran a mock debate to help prepare candidates from Thunder Bay and surrounding communities for the already underway campaign.

“We’re just trying to encourage women and support them in the participation of the electoral process,” Davies said.

She thinks it’s working.

“I believe one of the reasons we have more women (running) is because we’ve tried to talk about women in politics and tried to encourage women to run and to provide them with mentorship opportunities along the way.”

Coun. Rebecca Johnson, one of 19 candidates seeking an at-large seat, is in the hunt for her fourth term at the council table.
Johnson and  Neebing incumbent Linda Rydholm were the lone two women who served the city the past four years.

She’d like a little more female company in council chambers, should be re-elected on Oct. 27.

“We represent 52 per cent of the population, so we need to be able to have women step forward as a candidate. From that, they also need to be able to be elected. This is a way we can help train women once they put their name forward,” Johnson said.

“It’s crucially important that we continue to educate women so they can be a better candidate and ultimately be elected.”

Thunder Bay city council generally hovers between two and three women elected each term, with a high of four winning seats in 1974.


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