All the King’s MEN

When I ran for alderman in 2016, one of my platforms was to model the selection of LaVergne committee membership to be similar to the way that Nashville selects members. When Nashville has committee openings, members of the council will vocally advocate why someone should serve. They review the qualifications and experience of applicants as its pertains to specific committees in which they are nominated to serve. Nashville’s selection process is so much more than a popularity contest.

Sheesh even in clipart, all we see are men on committees!

Unfortunately for us, this “popularity contest” theme seems to be ongoing in La Vergne. Folks we get what we deserve when our voting is based on who’s loudest rather than actual know-how. Without experience, we get lopsided and this is exactly what has happened in La Vergne.

Here is the gender makeup of our committees.
Board of Mayor and Aldermen – ONE woman, FOUR men
Board of Zoning Appeals – ONE woman, FOUR men
Planning Commission – ZERO women, SEVEN men
Economic Development – ZERO women, SEVEN men
Local Emergency Planning – THREE women, NINETEEN men
La Vergne Housing Authority – ALL women (five) (but no meetings for at least nine years although members have requested meetings to be scheduled repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly)
Parks and Recreation – FOUR women, TWO men, one vacancy (but we’ve been informed that we’re only there to serve as an idea factory and basically to be seat fillers because the charter calls for the committee).
Stormwater Board – TWO women, FIVE men.
Beer Board – TWO women, THREE men (this one is decently even)
Construction Board of Appeals – TWO women, FIVE men
Greenway Committee – FIVE women, TWO men
Historical Preservation – TWO women, THREE men
Library Board – FOUR women, THREE men
Senior Center Committee – FOUR women, SEVEN men.
Industrial Development Board – TWO women, FIVE men (disclosure: this is a new board on which I was appointed)

Are not enough women applying for these positions? What’s the deal? I’d be intereseted in further researching more demographic information about who represents us, but just the gender inequality speaks volumes. We have 37 women serving on various La Vergne Boards, Commissions, and Committees and we have 76 men. That’s more than DOUBLE the number of men on committees than women. On the really impactful committees – those that have the authority to make binding legal decisions (those commissions that have teeth)… TEN women and 33 MEN. Our entire committee membership structure needs to be reexamined to more fairly represent our city’s diversitiy.

Enough of the stacking members based on friendship and favors … I want to see people appointed (and elected) who are fully qualified to serve. We simply must pay more attention to this process. If there are committee or board vacancies, we need to encourage qualified and knowledgeable people to seek the appointment. We need to hold our Board of Mayor and Aldermen accountable… they must advocate for the positive growth of our city and not just put people in place who they happen to go to church with or met on the ballfield. They need to consider a level playing field on behalf of equality.

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