I would like to respond to the letter by Sarah Gordon and Amber Wissing published in the Post Independent on March 2, 2018. I believe that as a woman and a former City Council member, I have a unique perspective on this subject. Let me start by saying that Jim Ingraham was clearly the best choice for city council.
When I ran for City Council in 2015, the fact that there were no women seated at that time was not even a consideration in my decision. I did not run because I thought more diversity was needed – although it was frequently mentioned. I simply saw a need for change and knew that I could help make that happen. I am very familiar with all of the candidates that applied for the at-large position I recently left. They were excellent candidates, each bringing different skills and experience.
Both Amber and Sarah are very capable young women. They currently serve on city boards, which they have for about a year, which is a perfect way to gain experience. However, the decision about who to appoint, or elect, for a position like this should NOT be made based on the assumption that City Council needs to be diversified. The decision of who to appoint, or elect, must be made based on qualifications and experience, not gender or race. Jim Ingraham is one of the candidates I know well and he has the perfect balance of experience and qualifications, particularly for the projects the city will be facing in the next few years.
As the letter by Ms. Wissing and Ms. Gordon pointed out, this position takes a tremendous amount of time – more than most people realize. Those of us who must work full time find it difficult to find an employer willing to allow the flexibility and sheer time commitment that is required for this position. That is why I was forced to make a choice – my financial security or serving on council. Because of the time commitment, it also takes a tremendous toll on home and family life, something that is difficult to reconcile for both men and women on council, particularly those with young families.
I would love to see more diversity in all of the city boards and commissions and on city council. However, it cannot be a forced diversity. It must be grounded and authentic. Sarah and Amber are doing exactly what they need to be doing to position themselves for a future leadership position. They are engaged in the community and cutting their teeth by serving on a variety of city boards. It takes time. I served on several boards and commissions for over six years, chairing the Planning Commission for four, before running for council.
As far as ethnic diversity, again it is something I would love to see within the city. I would encourage anyone with an interest to apply for open positions on the city’s boards and commissions.
Knowing Jim Ingraham as I do, Council made a perfect choice. He will be a thoughtful intelligent leader as the city moves through some difficult decisions. His leadership and financial background will serve the city well as it moves through major projects including implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system (ERP), bonding, and financing of needed infrastructure. He is a visionary and has the ability to get things done. He listens and considers all perspectives before making a decision. He can clearly and concisely state his viewpoints and works within groups to find common ground, develop unity and agreement, resulting in continued improvement and progress. He has served on the Financial Advisory Board for a number of years and has been an incredible asset in the development of criteria by which to assess the new ERP system. Going forward, his experience planning and implementing new systems will be invaluable. He will be a true asset to the City of Glenwood.
As humorist Arnold Glassow said, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.” Have patience Amber and Sarah. Your time will come.