San Juan County’s new legislative body is made up entirely of men.
While it’s unwise to debate the merits of council members based on gender alone, we think it’s worth noting the new line-up. Whether true or not, we are prone to think that women and men see through a different lens. According to science writer Robin Nixon, researchers have found that males are better at spatial skills, whereas women have more verbal fluency and greater memory for objects. But in another study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the “Big Five” personality traits – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism – do not categorically vary between men and women.
And for the record, we’d be having this same conversation if it was a new council of three women.
Here’s some interesting council history. We had an all-male council from 2006-08: Alan Lichter, Bob Myhr and Kevin Ranker followed by Ranker, Myhr, Richard Fralick, Gene Knapp, Rich Peterson and Howie Rosenfeld. Lovel Pratt joined the six-person council following the 2008 election.
We think it’s critical to have a balanced council. This is one reason why we did not endorse the charter amendments last fall. With three members, it’s difficult to achieve a varied group of elected officials. And that goes way beyond gender: it’s work experience, age, personal interests, volunteer history, lifestyle, etc.
Not to say that our current council isn’t diverse. Jamie Stephens has experience as an entrepreneur and has been on the council for two years. Bob Jarman worked at CenturyTel for decades and is the senior member of the group. Rick Hughes owns a local business and has a young son, keeping him involved with different activities.
We hope these varied perspectives make for a balanced council regardless of gender. The dynamics of our three new council members will be interesting to watch.