When Stettler town Coun. Leona Thorogood leaves office next fall after nine years in office, she hopes another woman fills her council seat.
“I hope that this will spur on other women and men to consider running for council, and the impact it will have their lives,” Thorogood said last week in announcing she doesn’t intend to re-offer.
“I believe that it is imperative that councils have female representation. For women, it is generally less of a competition and more of a tendency toward collaboration.”
Thorogood has declared her intentions about seven months from nomination day in September. She understands it can take considerable time to ponder the proposition, especially now that the terms of office will extend to four years, from the current three.
“I know my life is changing and I want to be able to make plans that may take me away from Stettler on a regular basis, and to continue as a councillor would not be fair to the residents I represent,” Thorogood said.
While she encourages all community-minded people to seek election, she also said that women add a valuable perspective to municipal affairs.
“Women just bring a different dynamic to the decisions that are made around the table.”
In the coming months, she plans to encourage council to present information sessions for any prospective candidates — women and men, while also providing her perspective.
“Personally, I would offer that anyone who is interested may contact me and ask any questions they might have,” Thorogood said.
“That could include such questions as: what are the time commitments? How does it affect my family? What are the financial implications? What are the responsibilities and how can change be implemented?
“I would hope that any councillor could be approached for the same information. One of the things I have enjoyed about our council in the last nine years has been the attention to not only the bricks and mortar that is required to run a municipality, but the willingness and desire to pay attention to the quality of life of those who live, work and play in Stettler.”
She said a council is like any organization or team that needs people will varying gifts and talent. She believes “a female view” can contribute to effective decisions concerning recreation, infrastructure, business, arts and music, youth, seniors, staff, health and long-term planning.
“They consider the emotional impact, as well as the physical and factual impacts, and are usually more globally-focused,” Thorogood said.
“I believe that many minds can come up with the best plan, and it also usually is the most effective when all involved take ownership of that plan.”
One of her favourite quotations talks about leadership and it states that a true leader is someone who guides others into making the right decisions.
“This type of collaboration is what makes Stettler a great place to be a councillor,” Thorogood said.
When she entered municipal politics, the local accountant was interested in discovering how the town functioned and contributing to the community.
“I also believe that the only way to effect change is be part of the solution and that takes a commitment,” Thorogood said.
“In the last three terms, I believe that we have become a community and council that is committed to all aspects of our community — both the hard and fixed part of a community and the softer side that puts people first.”
She said she didn’t experience any disadvantages to being a woman on the ballot or in council.
“If anything, it was an advantage,” Thorogood said.
“If yours is the only female name on the ballot, I believe that residents want variety in representation and being female is one aspect of that variety, just like being a business person, a lawyer, or a health professional are all part of that variety.
“If all council was like-minded, I don’t believe the best decisions can be made.”