More Than Being the Female Candidate

The District 3 Supervisor debate between Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver just aired on ABC television.

Based on what I heard and understood, this is going to be a close and difficult race. There are very few issues on which the candidates differ. Both come from backgrounds that have built these leaders. Both understand the processes and systems that need to be used, modified, or operated in order to serve the needs and interests of the population.

Both emphasized service to the population.

As I listened to the debate a particular thought struck me that was never an observation before. We have a woman running for a County leadership position. There were no histrionics, no wailing or weeping, no seeking sympathy for whatever feminine shortcoming (or status).

Both candidates were in a flatfooted race. Both were surefooted. They were well researched on their subject areas. It was obvious that when issues arise that are outside of their platform, they will have the vision to adequately address those concerns or be aware of the tools that can be used to address them.

Each knows how to talk with people in order to reach consensus and solutions. Each knows how to carefully listen to what’s being said. This was an extremely civil debate. There were occasional barbs and citing of questionable interpretations that occurred in the past. But there were not aggressive attacks. There were no efforts at character assassination.

Both cited the portions of their career histories that provided them with their strengths that make them qualified to receive the constituents’ votes. They respected the time limits and judiciously used their time allocations.

There was a comment in closing statements that asserted that Kuehl is from Sacramento. In other words, she is not closely affiliated with Los Angeles County (local) issues but is instead more attuned to the broad state government perspective. Both candidates live in the same city, Santa Monica. Kuehl countered the “not local” comment by asserting for the fourth or fifth time that both of them are from Santa Monica. She also pointed out her close affiliation with Los Angeles County throughout her work in film, law, law school professor, and local city college instructor. In other words (and within 15 seconds) she put herself back on a par with being closely attuned to local issues and concerns. As I said, there were no attacks.

Most significantly, it was a woman going toe to toe with a man. And it wasn’t a question of whether a woman is the better candidate. It was a question, pure and simple, of who is the better candidate.

Yes, this will be a very close race. It is not about whether we put a woman on the Board of Supervisors instead of a man. It’s about which candidate can serve well.

The midterm election is on Tuesday, November 4, and also encompasses election of a new Sheriff, as well as other officials and measures.

These candidates also had a radio debate on KCRW on October 15 that can be found on the station’s website.

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