Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Considering the children

Rex in the City makes mention of the obvious fact that BOE Candidate for the 1st District Sharon Gentry is pregnant and warns chauvinists about making the former vice-mayor's wife's pregnancy an issue during her campaign.

Gentry loyalists say this and a fear of Howard Gentry’s ties to organizations like the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and associated cliques has manifested itself in an unfair line of attack against Sharon Gentry concerning her pregnancy — namely that public office would be taking on too much to truly serve.
I met Mrs. Gentry week before last while attending the meeting for former board members and candidates regarding hiring a new superintendent of schools. She was obviously very pregnant and told us she was due before the election. To her credit she was very active in the discussion and would clearly make a better BOE member than the man she's running to replace, George Thompson. No 'pregnancy brain' was in evidence then.

However, the fact is she will be a new mom. It's wise to consider that she will be terribly busy those first few months, probably sleep deprived and likely needing a bit of time to physically recover. All of that during a time when she'll be gearing up for a new job and the district will be hiring a new superintendent and those anti SSA folks will be demanding changes, throw in a teacher hearing and it's going to be tough fall for all of the BOE members.

Before you start calling me a woman hater--I remember when my own councilman, Erik Cole, was running four years ago. His wife was obviously pregnant with their first child and I did ask if he was going to be able to handle this new job and being a new parent. He assured me that had a game plan in place.

Mayoral candidate David Briley's own child care issues came into play when he missed an important "English First" vote in the council. There was miscommunication about who was to pick up and care for his son and he needed to excuse himself to tend to that important task. It was right to ask if this could be repeated if he became mayor.

We now live in a world where having a wife available to handle the children while the candidate runs for office isn't normal anymore. We have moms running for office. We have dads who are expected to continue sharing child care duties. I don't think it's out of line to ask if the more important duties of caring for the children will interfere with the secondary, to that family, duties of the political position. It's part of the whole package the candidate brings to the job. A voter would be short-sighted to not consider it all. Likely the voters of the 1st district will decide that a bit of a slow start will be more than made up for during the entire four years.

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