It’s been nearly 90 years since Seattle elected its first—and only—female mayor, Bertha Knight Landes. And that trend will continue for the next four years. Neighborhood activist Kate Martin and Socialist Party candidate Mary Martin are long-shot agitators, and Seattle Chamber head Maud Daudon, a legitimate contender, decided not to run.

What is it about the mayor’s race that keeps credible female candidates out of the running? City council president Sally Clark says it could be because women tend (by nature or socialization) to seek more collaborative roles. Even she says she prefers “working in groups.” Maybe it’s a matter of timing. Council member Sally Bagshaw points out that in many modern elections, the mayor has been a popular incumbent—and taking on a popular incumbent requires money and at least a year of all-out campaigning. 

Or, as campaign consultant Lisa MacLean theorizes, maybe women in their 50s and 60s (the typical age for Seattle mayoral candidates) are more “cautious about their own political viability.” Clark, Bagshaw, Daudon, and Downtown Seattle Association president and CEO Kate Joncas were all on political insiders’ short lists for 2013. They—or another still-unknown contender—have three short years to get in the game.

 

Published: June 2013