Encouraging women in office

Published 10:36 am Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Recently, the Shelby County Courthouse was the site of a public forum about the state- and local-level election process.

During the forum — the first of its kind in the state of Alabama — Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister discussed several topics, including the recent landmark Voting Rights Act decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, new laws requiring voters to show photo IDs at voting places and — perhaps most importantly — encouraging women to run for office.

Fuhrmeister has more experience than most with women in office. Before she passed away, his wife, Patricia, was the Shelby County probate judge for 13 years. In fact, Jim Fuhrmeister took the position after Patricia’s death. So he knows precisely the impact that women in office can have. Currently, Shelby County has no female judges — a fact that Fuhrmeister hopes will change.

“Women bring a perspective to local office that men don’t have,” Fuhrmeister said. “I miss having a woman at that table.”

We hope Fuhrmeister won’t have to miss a woman’s presence much longer. Another election cycle is coming soon, and we’d love to see more women in local and state offices.

There are so many local women who are powerful leaders — whether that’s Lindsey Allison on the Shelby County Commission, Beth Chapman as Alabama Secretary of State, Peg Hill and Jane Hampton on the Shelby County Board of Education and the countless other women who are on city councils, lead volunteer and charity organizations and do daily work to keep our county one of the best in the state and the country.

We need more of those leaders to be in office, though. Fuhrmeister is right — women bring a perspective that men don’t have. It’s time for that perspective to be shared more often, so that we in Shelby County can be sure we are truly serving all the citizens of our county in the best way possible.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.