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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 8, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Gender and politics

Give Drago and Hutchison credit

Joni Balter’s claim that [Seattle City Councilmember] Jan Drago and [King County executive candidate] Susan Hutchison are exploiting gender in their campaigns is groundless and misinformed [“It’s time to skirt the gender thing,” editorial column, June 4].

Hutchison is not “riding on her gender by sitting out public forums,” it’s her huge name familiarity. Drago is not “counting on gender politics for a win,” but on a different leadership style.

When it comes to our state’s table, we’re not as progressive as we would like to think. A woman governor and two women U.S. senators hide the real story. Women comprise just less than 33 percent of our state Legislature, the lowest figure in nearly 20 years. Washington held the top ranking for many years but we’ve been dropping consistently over the past 10 years.

Of 16 Seattle City Council candidates this year, only two are women. That our model city hasn’t had a female mayor in more than 80 years (or has never had a female county executive) is cause for concern, not something to be dismissed as political trivia.

For women candidates, let the discussion of real issues come. Let’s also give them credit for running and find ways to encourage more women to do so.

— Linda Mitchell, president, National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, Seattle

Gender to be celebrated

“… I bristle at any assumption that female contenders somehow get a leg up,” writes Joni Balter. “[Susan] Hutchison is all but saying she is woman, hear her roar, and more conservative than the other candidates …”

So why don’t we see the same editorial about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor? Instead, The Seattle Times runs stories that gush with admiration for Sotomayor’s gender, heritage and life story [“Sonia Maria Sotomayor rose from the projects,” May 27].

In fact, President Obama was heavily expected to select a female nominee. If Balter or The Seattle Times were consistent, gender should have been called into question as a prerequisite for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Alas, no such objection was raised. The double standard is glaring.

I think we should take a different approach. Let’s celebrate a candidate’s gender, heritage and life story — Sotomayor, Hutchison and everyone else included. We don’t have to agree with them 100 percent on policy. But let’s not diminish their unique personal qualities for partisan political purposes either.

— Adam Commander, Redmond

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