PEI

More women running for municipal government this year than ever before

When Islanders head to the polls for municipal elections in Stratford, Cornwall, Summerside and Charlottetown, they'll have more female candidates to choose from than any time in the past two decades.

Municipal elections happen across the Island Nov. 5

There was more women than ever on the ballots this year on P.E.I. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

When Islanders head to the polls for municipal elections in Stratford, Cornwall, Summerside and Charlottetown, they'll have more female candidates to choose from than any time in the past two decades.

There are 19 female candidates for councillor positions and, for the first time in that same time period, a woman in every mayoral race.

Dawn Wilson, executive director of the P.E.I. Coalition for Women in Government, says it is encouraging to see the number of women running for office increase. But she also pointed out that even with 23 women running for council and mayor positions, there are 63 men running.

"Looking at the 2014 municipal election, we saw a decrease in the number of women running municipally that year," she said.

"So we are pleased that the percentage of women running in those four municipalities [Charlottetown, Summerside, Stratford and Cornwall] is up.… However we also recognize it is still well-below parity so there's work to do."

'Plants some seeds'

Wilson said the coalition saw more interest from women in the lead up to these municipal elections, leading them to run a series of events that "centred on specifically on municipal government."

These initiatives included going to council meetings, a lunch and learn on the roles and responsibilities of municipal councillors and a project called Engaging Island Women for Political Action.

While that project wasn't focused on municipal politics, it included a year-long leadership program for women wanting to run for office or thinking about running a campaign. 

Wilson is hopeful the number of women running, and the interest the coalition has seen in the past year will translate into more women running in federal and provincial elections.

"I do think that it obviously plants some seeds and I do have hope that we will see these women running in future elections," she said.

"It is promising to see more women running and Island women are smart, capable and qualified for elected office."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Malcolm is from Toronto and moved to the Island in December of 2016.

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