Women in municipal politics was the subject of a panel discussion following the Association of Manitoba Municipalities’ recent annual convention.
The discussion took place Nov. 29 at the University of Winnipeg and is part of a continuing effort by association officials to boost the number of women elected to municipal office.
Manitoba has a poor record compared to other provinces when it comes to women participating in municipal politics, with just 15% of councillors, mayors and reeves being female.
RM of Rosser reeve Frances Smee joined three City of Winnipeg councillors to speak about their personal experiences and offer suggestions for women who are considering running for municipal election in 2014.
Smee said after moving into her family home in 2008, she got involved in community groups. She was surprised when some residents suggested she consider running for reeve in the 2010 election as she had no previous political experience.
Smee agreed and campaigned with the help of some longtime Rosser residents. While most residents were polite when she knocked on their doors, she did get what she termed "aggressive" phone calls from people demanding to know where she stood on certain issues.
Smee said it wasn’t until after she was elected that she discovered being reeve is almost a full-time job and requires an individual to be on-call most of the time.
Rosser council is now negotiating with the provincial government and City of Winnipeg to facilitate further expansion of CentrePort into the RM of Rosser.
Smee said she is pleased Rosser council is comprised of two women and three men, and hopes that the coming election will result in more women stepping forward to put their names on municipal ballots across Manitoba.
The AMM published Ballot Box Barriers. It is available on the association’s website at www.amm.mb.ca/documents/womeningovernmentreport-website.pdf.