52% of the Population but Only 11% of the Council, for Now at Least

On November 7th the Buffalo News ran a story regarding Council member Bonnie Russell’s possible retirement from the Buffalo Common Council and her future employment plans.

This is an excellent time to bring up the fact that Council member Russell is currently the only woman serving on the Buffalo Common Council.  She accounts for one of nine members, making the current percentage of women on the Council 11%.  Abysmal.

According to the Census Bureau, 52.1% of the Buffalo population is female.

Also according to the Census Bureau 29.9% of Buffalo households live below the poverty level.  Many of those households are headed by single mothers who struggle to find affordable housing, good jobs and a quality education for their children.

If the members of the Council more closely represented the population of the City of Buffalo by gender, the issues facing women throughout the City, and those women struggling to raise families, would be better understood by Councilmembers.  A rising tide of understanding regarding the needs of these women who want to work and raise their families in Buffalo would lift the boat of all of the City residents.

During the recent government shutdown it was widely reported that it was the women members of the U.S. Senate who continued to work in a bi-partisan fashion to craft a compromise that would end the shutdown and get the federal government back to the work of serving the citizens.

The women shunned the notion that because they were not united by a political party they should avoid talking to one another.  Instead the women of the Senate continued their regular potlucks sharing food, getting to know each other, and doing the business of a legislative body by working to find a solution that could garner enough votes to re-open the government.

After that vote Senator John McCain said, “Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily by women in the Senate.”   Senator Susan Collins remarked, “Although we span the ideological spectrum, we are used to working together in a collaborative way.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that women were so heavily involved in trying to end this stalemate,”

This is the type of leadership we need to see on the Common Council.

Therefore In a city like Buffalo, with a high percentage of female residents and many challenges that are specific to the issues those women are facing, I believe it is imperative that we have leadership that represents the population.  I trust that the Common Council will understand this and act accordingly by appointing a qualified woman to replace Councilmember Bonnie Russell when she steps down.  With over 52% of the population they have a significant pool of talent to draw from when they cast their votes.