How soon could Sugar Land see a female mayor?

By S. Barot
For The Star

Mary Joyce is running for the Sugar Land At-Large Position 2 council seat. If Joyce is elected, Sugar Land will have three female council members for the first time in the city’s history.

Mary Joyce is running for the Sugar Land At-Large Position 2 council seat. If Joyce is elected, Sugar Land will have three female council members for the first time in the city’s history.

With half of the Sugar Land’s population being female, there is still a lack of gender parity in city politics.

Nevertheless, Sugar Land has more women on Council, compared to Missouri City and Stafford. Both of those cities currently only have one sitting female council member.

Since 1959, 16 women have served on Sugar Land City Council, but there have not been more than two serving in Council at the same time. Should a female candidate win the any of the three contested seats in the city elections in May, it will be historical, as there are already two sitting female city council members – Amy Mitchell and Bridget Yeung.

With presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina receiving considerable media coverage, women in politics have become more visible, but what about at the local level?

A 2012 report written by American’ University’s Women & Politics Institute states that one of the prime reasons that women do not enter the realm of politics is because “female potential candidates are less competitive, less confident, and more risk averse than their male counterparts.”

Sugar Land City Councilwoman Bridget Yeung disagrees.

“Women are a majority in our country’s population and more women graduate from college now than men,” Yeung said. “We have proven through all professions that we are just as competent as men. There are many women serving in high positions throughout corporate America and government entities.”

Mary Joyce, a political newcomer who has filed to run for At-Large Position 2, said she believes women candidates may be viewed as being very organized, highly educated, articulate, passionate, and connect well with voters. Though, she also added that the question of gender has never entered her mind when it comes to a candidate or a race.

“I always look for the most qualified, informed, and prepared candidate,” Joyce said.

A 2014 Pew Research Center survey on women and leadership reported that most Americans find women indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation, with many saying they’re stronger than men in terms of being compassionate and organized leaders.

Former Sugar Land City Councilwoman Jacquie Baly agreed that men and women should be seen equally in politics. A candidate’s competency, knowledge of city governance and an understanding of the job description are critical to success in public office.

Although there have been more men than women in Sugar Land politics, the council – although officially non-partisan – has been predominantly comprised of self-identifying Republicans in recent decades.

Baly and Yeung admitted that there are special variables women have to take into consideration when running for public office.

“Even though women are as competent to serve in these positions, many times we choose not to, because we have other priorities; our careers and more importantly, our families,” Yeung said.

Baly. a two-term former city councilwoman, is frequently asked to run for Mayor of Sugar Land. She cited her children come first, but she may consider running for mayor at a later date, as her youngest graduates high school in the spring of 2018.

As for Sugar Land politics, Baly sees a trend developing with more female participation in city politics, but she isn’t sure if the city will see a female mayor soon.

“We have never had a serious female candidate run for mayor in Sugar Land,” Baly said. “But I think change is coming – there is a new trend.”

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