June 26, 2019 10:33:18 AM
There are two riddles in this column.
A father and his daughter were involved in a car accident. The father is pronounced dead at the scene and the daughter is rushed to the emergency room. When she arrives, the surgeon takes one look at the patient and says, "I cannot perform surgery on this patient because she is my daughter."
How can this be?
If you are stumped, you may be the victim of a perception about gender roles.
The older you are, the more likely that when you think of a surgeon you instinctively think of a man. So how could the patient have two dads? That's the puzzler.
By now, the answer to the riddle is obvious; The surgeon is a woman and the mom of the patient.
Women doctors are no longer a novelty. They are an novelty in some roles, though.
The city of Columbus hasn't had a woman on its six-member city council since 2008 (Susan Mackay) and in two municipal elections since then, the only woman candidate for a council seat has been Mackay (in 2013).
Meanwhile, there has never been a woman on the five-member Lowndes County Board of Supervisors. What's more, it's not clear if a woman has ever even run for supervisor in Lowndes County.
Yet there is a woman supervisor in Oktibbeha County and there have been women aldermen in Starkville for years now (not to mention second-term mayor Lynn Spruill).
Caledonia has a woman alderman, West Point has a woman selectman.
Where Lowndes County is concerned the exclusion of women in city and county government is not going to change anytime soon.
In the upcoming Lowndes County elections only three of 33 candidates for 11 offices are women, two for the chancery clerk position which is currently held by another woman, Lisa Neese who is retiring. All five supervisor positions are contested. There's not a woman among the candidates.
Somehow, Columbus and Lowndes County seem to be stuck in the 1950s, and I don't know how to account for that.
That's the second riddle.
In April, and again in June, I attended meetings of 100+ Women Who Care Columbus and marveled at what I saw. In a span of just three months, these women, with little fanfare, raised $16,700 for charity, relying exclusively on their collective will.
After that first meeting, I wrote that there was likely never a better cross section of women in this county than this group. It seemed to cover every demographic - white and black, business owners and stay-at-home moms, left-leaners and right-wingers, young and old, well-known and unknown.
But there was one demographic that I did not find in that group. Among those 165 women who are members of the group, there was no city council member, no county supervisor.
Assuming that what's true of the nation is true of Lowndes County, more than half of our residents are female, yet only three are running for office. Think of it: three.
What does that say?
When I think of the women who have gathered for the 100+ Women Who Care, I wonder how it is that so few of our remarkable women have aspired to office, especially given their obvious commitment to their community.
When you think of all they could contribute, there can be little doubt that their absence in these important roles is a loss for our city and our county.
For reasons I cannot grasp, local government is a boys club.
Why? I have no idea. That's the second riddle.
My email address is below, so tell me.
I'd really like to know.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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