Boys club: the new City Council
ASPEN There is going to be a lot of testosterone in City Hall on Monday – it’s the first time in the past 17 years that the Aspen City Council will be devoid of any famale members.Women who have served on the council expressed disappointment that there won’t be more balance for at least the next two years. “Let’s assume 50 percent of the population are women,” said Helen Klanderud, who is leaving mayor’s seat because of term limits. “It makes sense to have equal representation on our boards. There are many qualified women in the community, and I would like to see more of them running for elective office.”An all-male City Council didn’t last long the last time around. After five men – Bill Tuite, Bill Stirling, Michael Gassman, Frank Peters and Steve Crockett – took office in June 1989, Crockett lost his seat to Margot Pendleton in a recall election the following February.A one-woman council is not unusual. City Clerk Kathryn Koch said numerous councils have had one woman since 1973. Richards was mayor with a council that included four men – Tim Semrau, Tony Hershey, Tom McCabe and Terry Paulson.”All of the people who have been elected are very capable and thoughtful people,” Richards said. “I would like to see a woman serving in the future, or multiple women. I do think it adds a little bit of balance and a slightly different take on issues that a woman’s perspective brings.”Richards said she thinks women sometimes have different views on issues such as child care. Councilman Jack Johnson, however, took issue with that, saying he cares about the issue just as much as women do. “I don’t think it has anything to do with gender or roles,” Johnson said. “I just think women didn’t feel like running this time. Any woman in town felt she could run and have as good a chance as any man.”Richards and Klanderud both said they believe the lack of a female could affect policy, but likely in subtle ways. “I think there are differences between men and women as to how they perceive people, how they analyze issues,” Klanderud said. “It doesn’t mean one is better than another, but they are different, and to have those differences represented is important.” Elsewhere in the valley, municipal boards are balanced more evenly:• The Pitkin County Board of Commissioners has three women (including Richards) and two men. • Snowmass Town Council has one woman and four men. • The Basalt council is comprised of five men and two women.• Eagle and Garfield counties have two men and one woman on their boards of county commissioners. Klanderud wondered why more women didn’t run for council this time and said she felt it was a sort of personal failure. She said women might be less open to being attacked or challenged but agreed that the deck isn’t stacked against women in an Aspen election. The odds were against women in the spring election, though – one of the four mayoral candidates was a woman, and one of eight council candidates was a woman. “The women I’ve served with on council had more balls than the men,” Johnson said. “So, it might be a more feminine council.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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