I was startled to see that one of our candidates for municipal election — the third person in the deputy mayor’s race — dropped out shortly after submitting her papers. According to the town’s web page, Jordan Fleming filed her papers at 11:34 a.m. on August 19; two-and-a-half hours before nominations closed. She withdrew at 2:54 p.m. on Aug. 24.
According to the interview in CollingwoodToday, she decided to drop out almost immediately because of family issues. I was surprised she hadn’t considered those issues in the three months nominations were open before she filed at the very last minute. Or while she was gathering the necessary signatures (minimum 25) for her endorsement.*
“My dad has Alzheimer’s. Recently, he’s taken some quick steps in the wrong direction,” she said. “My mom is his sole caregiver. I’m at home with four kids. I’m trying to do my best.”
I sympathize with her challenges and laud her desire to support her family. Alzheimer’s can be devastating to families. And four kids must be quite a handful at the best of times. But surely none of this happened between the time she filed and the time she withdrew. Why file for a position when you know that if elected, it will exacerbate those issues? And why gather endorsements and file, only to withdraw almost immediately — yet late enough to leave your name on the ballot?
Fleming said her decision to drop out speaks to “some of the reasons women in general, especially young women, tend to not run for political office.” Yes, caregivers of all sorts have an additional burden, but not just in political office: they have to face it in any job. True, the burden generally falls on women (often unfairly so); perhaps that’s the reason she was already “at home with four kids.” But she must have known all of that before filing.
I have always wanted to see more women on council, but I suspect former Councillor Tina Comi’s experience in being bullied out of office by McLeod and her gang (including incumbents Jeffrey, Berman, Doherty, and Madigan) will discourage women (especially those with young families) from running even more. Comi was harassed by her colleagues because she interrupted a training session to deal with an urgent family matter. And even after she resigned, the gang continued to bully her.
I wonder if Ms. Fleming only learned of Comi’s treatment after she submitted her name and then realized that, should any of these incumbents be re-elected, she could face the same treatment at their hands. There’s no reason to think any of these ethically-bankrupt bullies wouldn’t pull the same trick on another female councillor they wanted to rid themselves of.
Of course, the conspiracy machine has not been silent since Fleming’s withdrawal. Lots of coffee shop chatter has arisen about her actions, and what this might mean to the remaining deputy-mayoral candidates. Questions have been posed asking whether others might have influenced her actions and why. But we’re unlikely to learn more through local media.
* As of the time I wrote this, nothing had appeared about Fleming’s filing or withdrawal in the Connection. No, I’m not surprised, either.