The Enumclaw City Council has much to be proud of during this past year. Working with the mayor and helping businesses stay open with blocked off streets, tents, and fire pits in the downtown sector has helped the downtown survive the worst of the current pandemic.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the council’s process for interviewing and discussing candidates to replace two vacant positions on the city council in February. With a record breaking number of 16 highly qualified candidates (eight female and eight male) for two open positions, the all-male council had the opportunity to substantially increase diverse representation in its membership.
While some general questions were asked to all candidates, several different questions were directed to female candidates. One female candidate that currently runs her own business and has experience in finance and accounting was asked what kind of “cute” message she would put on a sign in her kitchen that represented a rule for living well in Enumclaw. Another female candidate with extensive experience in accounting and helping small businesses was asked who she would take with her to a deserted island. A female candidate with experience as a project manager on government contracts was asked what type of drink she picks up when she enters a convenience store. None of these questions were asked of male candidates and wasted valuable time for female candidates to share their experience and vision for the council and what they could contribute to it.
In the meeting to discuss and select the future members on March 8, male and female candidates were also discussed differently. Men in general were described as strong negotiators, decisive, and tenacious. The women were described as “would be a hoot to work with,” having amazing personalities, and making them laugh during the long interview process. One council member even remarked, “Thank you for that girls!” I did not hear the interviewers calling the male candidates “boys”.
I think the Council has done a great job supporting Enumclaw businesses through the pandemic. Given the highly qualified candidates for City Council, there needs to be more professionalism in the interview process for vacant seats. Having more women and diversity on the council will be a strength for Enumclaw going forward.