A call for more women in local government

Current councillor hosts a 'first-time' forum for potential candidates

Parksville city councillor Carrie Powell-Davidson wants to see more women enter local government.

In an effort to make this happen, Powell-Davidson hosted a ‘first-time’ forum March 26 at the Bayside Resort, bringing together elected officials and those looking to enter political life.

“(Elected positions in government) are the only jobs you can get with virtually no experience but they are the most important jobs in the community,” said Powell-Davidson.

The meeting saw a panel of local politicians speak candidly about their experiences in government as well as answer questions from the audience. The panel included Qualicum Beach town Coun. Mary Brouilette, RDN director Bill Veenhof and Nanaimo Coun. Diane Brennan.

One of the eight attendees, 38-year-old Megan Olsen, said she came to the event because she sees a need for more women and young people to get involved in government.

Olsen said she plans on running for Parksville city council in the upcoming election Nov. 15.

“We need to start getting young families back into our community,” said Olsen, on why she wants to run for council. “I also think Parksville lacks art and culture and I want to change that.”

Additionally, owner of Pacific Brimm Cafe Teresa Patterson came to the event as she also sees “a need for more women in government at the local level.”

Patterson said she is thinking about running for a seat on city council again, but was reluctant to make an official statement.

As for current councillor Powell-Davidson, some may wonder why she’s calling for more people to throw their names in the political ring considering she could very well unseat herself.

“It’s about closing the gap,” said Powell-Davidson. “But it’s also about getting the best people to represent our communities.”

Powell-Davidson said she does intend on running for re-election this fall and she wants to see a strong council alongside her — if she wins back her seat.

“I want to ensure that whether you are male or female, young or old that you’re the best person for the job,” she said.

Powell-Davidson said she will offer what she called “campaign schools” this fall for people who have decided to run for election.

According to Powell-Davidson, she will host two workshops consisting of classroom work, networking opportunities, communication tools, lessons on working with the media, public speaking and post-election tools geared towards people looking at political life.

“I suppose in a way this is helping create my competition,” said Powell-Davidson. “But I love Parksville and if the electorate sees other people as better candidates then so be it.”