Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why Not a She-Mayor?

Posted By on 09.14.10 at 11:08 AM

Carol Moseley Braun
  • U.S. Government
  • Carol Moseley Braun
Yesterday Black Voice News reported that former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun is "seriously considering" a run for mayor, after reportedly being "flooded with calls" of encouragement on the day Richard M. Daley announced his retirement. Huh. Maybe the mayoral race won't be an all-dudes affair after all.

Today, Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell confirms Moseley Braun's interest in the job. "I think people are prepared to support the most qualified person, without regard to race and gender," the could-be candidate—currently the head of her own organic food and beverages company—told Mitchell. "My qualifications should win the day."

We've heard quite a bit about Rahm Emanuel and his "hard-nosed" and "notoriously bare-knuckled" style, which makes him sound like he'd just spend his mayoral term fist-fighting everyone. Other names being tossed around include Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., and several other guys. Very little discussion has involved any female candidates.

Yesterday, for instance, Crain's Chicago Business ran an article about who the local business community might support for mayor—not one person on their list was female. And last week, the Sun-Times ran a poll by McKeon & Associates asking respondents this question: "If the primary election for Mayor of Chicago were held today, for whom would you vote?" None of the nine choices was a woman.

Back in December, Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin pointed out the lack of women running for statewide office; given that, maybe an all-male mayoral ballot for Chicago isn't so odd.

Writing for The Hill, Carol Felsenthal (who interviewed Rod Blagojevich in 2003—never forget!) asks, "Why are there no women among the serious contenders?" and suggests that it's because Chicago lady pols like attorney general Lisa Madigan, alderman Sandi Jackson, and Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett would bring too much drama:

The few females whose names surfaced carry so much baggage that their road to the Feb. 22, 2011, election and the inevitable April 5 runoff would prove difficult to impossible.

Said baggage includes, for Jackson, her husband's Blago taint; for Madigan it's her father's conflicts of interest. Some might call the Daley surname "baggage"—yet Daley II was somehow able to win office without having to answer for all of his father's transgressions. As for Emanuel, he's stabbed tables, mailed fish, and called liberal activists "retarded"—yet none of these, um, dramatic flourishes seems to be harming his odds.

Responding to Felsenthal's post, commenter Kathy Byrne writes, "Perhaps because smart and sensible women don't want to be subjected to pointless and insulting columns such as this one?"

Writer Rebecca Sive suggests that Chicago could benefit from having a female mayor, because women make up the majority of people most affected by where the city is currently failing. Women bear the brunt of poverty, the lack of family-sustaining employment, and the aftermath of violent crime, and therefore could bring a sense of urgency to those issues. Of course none of this matters if people believe that government's role should be limited, or if there's a $654 million reason local government just can't help everyone who needs help.

On the cup half-full side, Chicago remains the only one of America's top three cities to have ever elected a woman at all. Hey, that's something, right?

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