I remember being shocked. It was 2013, and we had just elected a council of eleven men and zero women. Zero.
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Although we’re a majority of the population, women usually only expect an equal voice. 50%. We’ve never got there, not on St. John’s City Council.
Apparently the United Nations says that women’s issues start getting heard when a legislative body contains 30% women. I don’t know how they came up with that number. We’ve got there once, I think. In 1990 there were nine people on Council, and Suzanne Duff and Dorothy Wyatt and Wendy Williams made up one third.
But one woman on council—it was easy to take that for granted.
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Dorothy Wyatt became the first woman on St. John’s City Council in 1969, and for the next forty-four years there was always at least one woman. It seemed like a sure thing. It wasn’t.
The long wait until 1969 wasn’t a sure thing either. Believe it or not, in 1925, in the very first election in Newfoundland or Labrador where women were allowed to vote, Julia Salter Earle came within eleven votes of winning. Eleven votes isn’t very many. You can get that putting up a lawn sign, or talking to your friends and family.
Hillary winning was supposed to be a sure thing.
I don’t believe much in sure things anymore.
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I can’t pretend the only reason I’m running is that we need more women on council. I have lots of reasons; if you want to know what I believe in, look me up or get in touch! But: we need more women on council, and that’s definitely a big reason why I’m running.
I didn’t plan to run in 2017. I’m 26 years old. I have two young children and a few careers. I thought I’d help out, maybe work on a campaign. So I started asking people I respect who I should help, and how, and what they said was: Run yourself. We need women to take the plunge and run.
So I did.
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They say incumbents always win in municipal politics. They say name recognition always triumphs. They say that’s a sure thing.
Let’s not be fooled by sure things anymore. St. John’s is a small town, and one person—you—can make a big difference here.
This is the part where I ask for your help.
I need a lot of help right now. Any kind of help; whatever you can spare, I need it. So please, think if there’s anything you can do!
Can you volunteer? Take a lawn sign? Donate? Join my email list? Talk to your friends and family? Can you like or share stuff on Facebook?
Get in touch. Vote for a new voice, a strong voice on council.
Maggie is running for councillor at large for St. John’s. As a teacher and musician, a non-profit administrator and leadership coach, a writer, and as the mom of two young children, Maggie has a lot of experience to offer—and a different perspective.