"Asked and Answered" is an online feature in which community leaders respond to questions from The Bloomington Alternative. The officials' answers are presented unedited. This week's debut edition features Regina Moore, from the Democratic Women's Caucus (DWC).
Alternative editor Steven Higgs submitted the following questions in advance of last week's Democratic Party caucus that selected a replacement for Chris Gaal on the Bloomington City Council. Monroe County citizens elected Gaal County Prosecutor.
On Nov. 30, the caucus elected Susan Sandberg on the first ballot to replace Gaal. She was a DWC-endorsed candidate and will be the only female on the council.
Questions submitted on Nov. 9
BA:As the founder of the Democratic Women's Caucus, which I assume will be a major player in the selection of Chris Gaal's successor on the City Council, would you please explain to Bloomington Alternative readers:
RM: Steve, I'm not sure just how the DWC will be 'a major player' in this caucus for Chris' seat, but we're sure talking about it a lot. As you know this is a wonderful opportunity for a qualified woman to certainly be considered alongside the men who have publicly stated their interest.
BA:1/ What qualifications you are looking for in a replacement?
A well qualified candidate would be someone who has a demonstrated commitment to public service and who has the temperament and skills to listen carefully, analyze information, communicate effectively and build consensus toward the greater good of Bloomington. Someone willing to make tough decisions and serve with integrity would be a great addition to the council, and I know there are women who fit this description. And personally, until there's a break in the all male composition of this council, I really couldn't support a male candidate in this caucus.
BA:2/ What exactly is your definition of progressive?
RM:There's much written today about 'progressive,' a term that probably started out to be an alternative for the word "liberal" that has been so maligned lately. You probably would consider some of this to be your own definition of "progressive."
A Progressive is one who accepts the FDR dictum that "the test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much, but whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
Progressive is a collective political will to keep society moving forward toward a better quality of life for more people. A progressive respects history as they look ahead to a productive future. A progressive is inclusive of all kinds of ideas and ideals, not the least of which is gender equity and affirmative action. A progressive takes into consideration the wants and needs of the most vulnerable in our society, including a fragile earth. A progressive supports sustainability, human rights, civil rights, women's rights, and is mindful of the rapid decline of the middle class and the growing legions of the working poor. A progressive works for peace and prosperity. A progressive accepts that there are many paths toward achieving common goals and is eager to consider creative solutions to community problems.
To that end, I'd say that progressives could coalesce around these principles:
- Environmental protection
- Economic justice
- Citizen participation
- Cultural diversity
BA:3/ Please explain the DWC's rationale for recruiting and running Jill Lesh, a candidate who has no history with and very little knowledge of our community, over Bill Hayden, a resident and Democratic activist who has many decades of community service.
RM:First of all, the seat for this race was an open seat. There was no incumbent running in this newly created district.
The Democratic Women's Caucus, in its mission to inspire, recruit, support, fund and train women for political participation, considers every open seat and every Republican seat a good place to encourage women to run. The county council seat was just that type of situation: an open seat.
Jill had expressed an interest in running, had committed to living in the district (and downtown) so that she and her husband could walk to work and not use their cars. She had experience in governmental service on a zoning board, had experience with political life as president of the League of Women Voters in Utah, and had been appointed by the governor of Utah to be on the commission to study air quality. She's a born Hoosier and had spent time in Bloomington getting her degree in Education. We found her to be well qualified with the right values to be endorsed and supported in her effort to run for elected office.
I don't think we thought of her candidate as ANTI- anyone at this point -- the open seat was seen as an opportunity to put a woman on the county council. At that point (except for Sophia who had just been elected) there hadn't been a woman on the county council since Joni Reagan left, and Donna Richardson before that.
It has been my experience for years, that when party officials are looking for candidates to file for elections, they'll often think of the men's names first, especially if they've run before, or are vocal in the community. I've seen it happen over and over that when that man's name is mentioned, and it's determined that he is interested, the process stops. The study done at Brown University on "why women don't run" for elected office found that women don't get the same amount of encouragement from party officials that men do. That is certainly been my experience, and one of the main reasons why this caucus was formed. If women have to continue to be second choice, how will we ever have even a third as many women as men involved in the legislative process.
Saying all that, I'll add that she was a candidate for District 4; it was the opportunity that was desired. It just happened to end up that the voters chose her over her opponent. I certainly can't apologize for the choice that the voters in that district made.
Women run for office for the same reasons that men do... they think they can do the job and they want to try. That's what we're here for... to promote the fact that women should be considered alongside men to add a richer perspective and diversity to the democratic process.
Steven Higgs can be reached at . Regina Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.