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One Woman?

August 14, 2013

Last night the Democratic mayoral candidates participated in another debate. There has been no shortage of debates, forums, etc. during this election cycle. I’ve watched some on TV and gone to some others in person. As I watched last night, I had to ask myself, is there really only ONE woman running for Mayor of New York City?

That can’t be right…can it? Even though New York City is overwhelmingly Democratic, other parties do exist. I already knew the GOP didn’t have any women running. Surely there must be another woman candidate on some third party ticket I thought to myself.

I checked Decide NYC, which has become a “go-to” resource for NYC elections. They have all of the mayoral candidates listed, even the third parties. Only one woman – City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

I know I must be late to the party. I know this must have been a topic of discussion that I clearly missed. But when I did a quick Google search only one story on woman mayoral candidates came up, from NPR. Other stories focus more on Quinn as a candidate as opposed to the larger gender imbalance. It is commonly mentioned that Speaker Quinn would be the first female Mayor of New York City, but I haven’t heard much mention that she’s the only female candidate.

How is it that we’ve heard more about Weiner’s wiener than the fact that the nation’s largest city only has one woman candidate for mayor? Not just from a “major” party, but from any party? Why isn’t this all over MSNBC and Twitter? Can the Big Apple really be bereft of female candidates?

A quick counterpoint might be that there are five women total running for citywide office, including three for Public Advocate and two for City Comptroller, and any of them could make a bid for mayor in four years. But what if they all lose this time around (especially considering that two are from third parties)? A run for mayor wouldn’t be impossible, but it would be much harder.

The current candidates for borough president might be a better farm team, but there’s only one woman candidate outside of Manhattan – Melinda Katz of Queens. There is a possibility that there could be a woman in White House before Gracie Mansion. In fact, New York City has only had three women make it to the general election – ever. The last time was 1997 when former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger lost to Rudy Giuliani. The only time before that was in 1985 when former City Council President Carol Bellamy and Diane McGrath lost to Ed Koch. So really, we’ve only had two general elections hat featured women. Interestingly, Bellamy was also the first female president of the New York City Council. 

I’m not endorsing Christine Quinn, but I am endorsing the question of why aren’t there more women running for mayor.

New York is popularly thought of as a liberal place, but the lack of women in the forefront is very telling. I’m not sure if it’s a reflection of New York not really being all that liberal, or just liberal hypocrisy.


From → Commentary

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