Last night, months of campaigning for hundreds of candidates across the province was brought to a finale. It was election night for Ontario municipalities. As a strong supporter of democracy, I ensured my entire household went to that polling booth and voted.
Friends of mine from various cities and towns ran for public office, with varied success. My good friend Nicole in North Bay was not elected as a Trustee (since, you know, no one remembers to vote for Trustees!), but my other good friend Jackie was happily re-elected as a member of Council in St.-Charles (as was Leanne and Jim), and Paul and Claude both became Mayors again in the Sudbury East area. Sheldon was chosen as Deputy-Mayor, ‘shocking’ the entire North Bay area, and most certainly enraging the misogynist and anti-young-people-in-politics Mayor of that town.
So while I am thrilled for the results of my friends, this election was bittersweet for me. I love politics. Back in March, I decided to run for political office in North Bay, and drew up a 30-page platform. I met with the Mayor to discuss his experience and gain some advice. He told me not to run for Office, that I should think of my children and family, that there is no need for more women in politics, and that I should wait until I’m an old man before running. It was repulsive. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
I did a lot of thinking. One, I no longer felt like I wanted to stay in North Bay. Two, should I really choose politics over my family? Three, no, I didn’t want to choose politics over my family. At least not over my very young family, which needs me unconditionally.
So as disgusted as I was with the views of that Mayor, I did a little soul-searching. I found that I did not want to spend thousands of dollars on a campaign. I found that I wanted to spend as much time with my family as possible. I found that I wanted to be available as much as possible, especially since I am committed to breastfeeding on demand.
Long story short, we decided to head back down South, for numerous reasons, including the fact that we wanted to be closer to family, and I couldn’t deal with such a CONservative city anymore. I didn’t run for Council. Was it because of what that sleazeball said? No. Was it because I couldn’t afford a huge campaign to get the Old Boys Club out of Office? Yes. Was it because I didn’t have the time to run this months-long campaign? Yes. Was it because I couldn’t fathom leaving my family behind while at long council meetings? Yes.
So why is this election bittersweet? What am I b*&$) about? Because my entire life I wanted to become a politician. I started a PhD in Political Science to gain the academic background that would enable me to make the critical decisions necessary to become a progressive public servant. I worked for a municipality for 9 months, loving the council meetings, the negotiations, and the decision making. I continue to work with public servants ever since. So while I’m thrilled to be with my family, this election is bittersweet. It’s a reminder of the life that I thought I had longed for. The life that I was so committed to building and establishing.
Would it have been easier if I were a man? Would I have ran and been on Council if I were a man? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But I didn’t change paths because of some societal understanding of what I should be doing. I changed paths because it felt right. No cultural stereotype could change that.
Could I have been an absolutely fantastic Council woman? Hell yeah. But I chose my family. And while today the election itself may be bittersweet for me, I know that I made the right decision for us. I am blessed to be able to enjoy the smile on my baby’s face as he wakes to nurse from his nap, and be the one he snuggles to last before he drifts away into sleep at night. I wouldn’t trade this for the world. This feels absolutely right.