Thunder Bay

Despite efforts, options, still only 3 women on Thunder Bay city council

There won't be any fewer women on Thunder Bay's next city council, but those hoping to boost female representation were disappointed by this week's election results.

'We are not quitting. There's no way,' says Women in Politics co-chair

There's still a lot of work to be done to improve gender parity among Thunder Bay's elected municipal officials, said Rebecca Johnson, who will serve as one of three women on the city's next city council, along with Kristen Oliver, and Shelby Ch'ng. (tbayvotes.ca)

There won't be any fewer women on Thunder Bay's next city council, but those hoping to boost female representation were disappointed by this week's election results. 

Once again, just three women will serve on the northwestern Ontario city's 13-member council. 

Considering the number of women who were on the ballot, the results were, "overall, disappointing," said Rebecca Johnson, a long-time councillor and co-chair of Women in Politics, a group working to support and mentor female candidates in the region.

That work will now continue. 

"We are not quitting. There's no way," Johnson said. 

"We are going to eventually have diverse municipal councils. We are going to have more women represented on them. And that will take some time, but we're not quitting."

'Fabulous' candidates

Kristen Oliver, a first-time candidate who did win her race in the Westfort ward, and who also sits on the Women in Politics group, said she understands the challenges facing women who enter a political race, and she wants to encourage those who didn't win a seat this time to keep trying.

She said she also hopes they stay involved in municipal politics in other ways, such as through committee work. 

"I think the voices that we were hearing throughout this campaign and the ideas and the initiatives that these women were bringing forward would really assist our community in a number of ways, and they're very valuable," she said. 

"There were some fabulous women that were on the ballot this year."

Taking stock and looking forward

Women in Politics will hold a meeting soon, Johnson said, at which the group will take stock of the results and discuss next steps. 

The cost of running a political campaign continues to be one of the significant challenges for women seeking office, she noted. 

Over the next two years, Johnson said she expects the group to focus on encouraging more women to join local boards. That's one way in which women can build their profile in the community before the next election, in four years' time. 

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