Ridgefield is rapidly on the rise. With so much change and development, it is time to see some transformation in the leadership department as well.
There are 15 elected positions in Ridgefield. Only five of those are held by women, and zero held by persons of color. If you exclude the five school board directors, the average age of our elected leaders is north of 70. Meanwhile, persons 65 years and over represent only 12.2% of our city. In addition, nearly 20% or our citizens are a person of color, Latino or Hispanic.
Does our leadership makeup reflect those statistics?
A glaring example occurred recently with the division of our City Council. They chose to undercut a very popular, accessible female mayor with what appeared to be a behind-the-scenes charade, taking away the progress of cultivated relationships and a new era for the city. The process included nominations that led to councilors being “surprised” while still accepting.
Doesn’t feel like an act of decorum in selecting the mayor.
Elected leadership should unite all segments of our community. For example, look at the Amber Baker versus Rob Peterson school board race. It was a heated battle at times during election season. Now, we are on the other side of the results, and we have volunteers from both of their campaigns partnering passionately to pass a long overdue school bond. We need more of that: collaboration and community.
This past fall, there were nine seats up for election, only two of which were contested. We need some fresh perspectives to keep up with our inevitable growth. I am grateful for those who have served our city for many years. However, Ridgefield is not the old-school community it perhaps was. It’s critical that major aspects of our city reflect that progress.