Buffalo 'Boys' Club

Lack of women in elected positions indicates problems in Buffalo


Study after study has come out recently proving that diversity is key to properly acknowledging and working a group’s issues. More importantly, such diversity also improves the functioning of the group, as more and different ideas get tossed about than in a relatively homogeneous group.

So it is with some concern that Buffalo City Hall’s elected positions are stunningly male-dominated. There is not a single woman in either the mayor’s chair, the comptroller’s chair, or any of the seats on the Common Council. Buffalo is the only major city west of Albany to hold this dubious distinction.

The last woman to serve on the Common Council was Bonnie Russell, who served for 10 years and quit in January 2014. During her 10 years on the Council, she was the only woman.

A lack of female elected representation poses a problem. Officials have chosen to talk of their support for diversity and all the female candidates being supported for elected positions. All of the positions mentioned are in the suburbs.

Elected officials have tried to point to diversity in their appointed positions. While certainly a solid point in the government's favor, all of these appointed positions are in the executive branch of Buffalo’s government. The legislative side of things remain disappointingly barren.

Recent elections have hardly helped either. Men have replaced men and the upcoming election in November has the entire Council looking at an easy re-election. Despite some efforts from local women to become candidates, it has not been easy.

The lack of equal representation is disturbing. Women’s rights in our country have entered a tenuous phase, as various states have attempted to complicate reproductive rights. Donald Trump’s misogynistic comments should have earned him reproach. Instead his popularity has only grown, which is a worrying indicator of where the level of respect toward women resides. Sexual violence against women remains a troubling issue, especially on college campuses.

Every gender and minority needs to have a voice, at all levels of government. That elected officials would shrug off a lack of equal representation comes across at best as narrow-minded, at worst as purposely supposing that they assume female representation as unnecessary. It has been 20 months since Russell left her position on the Common Council. Yet, Councilman David A. Franczyk is untroubled.

“Perhaps it’s a fluke,” Franczyk said to The Buffalo News. “We should have women on the Council. I’m sure it will happen again.”

A complete lack of new female involvement in elected the Council for more than 11 years is no fluke. It’s troubling that Franczyk has a complete lack of concern in regards to the lopsided representation of the elected body.

The lack of any stirring action from either political party is just as damning. Their responses have been mitigation, half-measures and misdirection. Is it really any surprise that Americans don't trust the political system, when valid concerns are raised and languidly dismissed? 

The editorial board can be reached at editorial@ubspectrum.com