commissioner’s column: Kelly Fraasch

Nationally, we have seen a greater interest in women running for office. It has been inspiring for me to witness my daughter’s potential and encourage her responsibility as the next

Kelly Fraasch, Commissioner Ward 5

generation. It’s just as important to see my son support women’s and men’s equal opportunity to run for office.

However, as a community leader and the only woman serving as a Commissioner, I have concerns that Mt. Lebanon is missing out on this progress if we don’t take an active role in ensuring more women are able to run for elected position within our municipal government.

One of the top reasons I ran for office in 2011 was my concern that a woman hadn’t served as a Commissioner since Barbara Logan completed her three terms in 2007. For the last three of my six years on the Commission, a majority of my time serving, I have been the sole female. That concerns me in many ways for our community’s future, as I begin finishing up my eight years.

In 2011, I made the decision to run after speaking to my husband and recognizing I had the time and we had the financial resources to serve. At that time, I did not fully understand the privilege afforded to me so I could run.

Within the first two months, I realized the 20 hours a month I estimated the job would take was an underestimate. Thank goodness I had a spouse to assist with child care and running kids around, and we had the financial means to pay for the expenses that go with this role.

In 2013 to 2015, my spouse traveled an extraordinary amount and then soon after I became a single parent. Through my transition of being married to divorced, I could see more clearly the potential struggles for women to run for office or maintain their elected position. I understood the privilege I had in 2011.

I felt this new perspective afforded me the opportunity to speak out.

We should all demand changes big and small to give every woman the opportunity to consider a run for office in our local government.

I have brought value to this Commission in many perspectives, but here are a few things I am certain my male colleagues haven’t provided to this community. I’ve assisted women  have needed help in domestic situations from all wards, not just the ward I serve. I’ve talked with numerous young women and men to discuss the importance of a gender-diverse leadership. Not to mention, in discussions with my colleagues, I have added to a conversation with my “particular lens” to address or resolve a situation.

Between 1988 and 1991, women made up the majority on our Commission. I hope and expect this community develops a conscious effort to ensure that women continue to serve our municipality and the residents of Mt. Lebanon.