Monday night, the new Crestview City Council sat at the dais for its first regular meeting.


Monday night, the new Crestview City Council sat at the dais for its first regular meeting.



But something was different compared to their March meetings.



Did you notice what it was?



I'll give you a hint: When former City Councilwoman Robyn Helt in her last few weeks of service said some residents believe Crestview government is "a good ol' boys club," she was referring to perceived nepotism.



She called for an ordinance restricting an outgoing elected official's hire "within a certain timeframe of leaving office."  In addition, she said the new council should prohibit elected officials' immediate family members from receiving city of Crestview jobs.



A number of our readers championed her words, but Okaloosa County Commissioner hopeful Graham Fountain said on crestviewbulletin.com that the state already governs the matter. Further, he said, "just because someone runs and is elected to the city council does not mean that such official's family member who is employed should be excommunicated or removed."



Fair enough.



However, I feel that the larger point here is not whether the state restricts nepotism. Rather, it is that a number of people here do perceive that the city's inner workings deal more with "what have you done for me lately." And the Joey Floyd controversy certainly didn't quell that perception.



So Helt had a point.



But her stepping down contributed to the new, all-male city council, and gives her words new meaning. Now, no Hub City district has female representation. No voting member on the dais will offer a woman's perspective. This is not to slight the current City Council; I've written about how the newest council members, Bill Cox and JB Whitten, already demonstrated plenty of civic involvement and passion for their community. And perhaps that's why no one ran against them.



However, the News Bulletin strives to cover 360 degrees of an issue, so it's time to analyze this further.



First of all, any perception of female under-representation is not isolated to Crestview.



'THAT'S POWER'



The number of women leading in local governments "hasn't improved since Ronald Reagan was president," according to Government Executive Magazine, which cites a report from the January-February issue of the International City/County Management Association’s Public Management Magazine.



Nationwide, just 13 percent of female city employees in leadership roles move to higher-ranking positions such as chief administrative officer, according to PM Magazine.



Granted, this doesn't seem to be the concern for Crestview. The council recently appointed Teresa Gaillard as Administrative Services director, a role with sweeping responsibilities such as preparing ordinances, resolutions and council meeting and workshop agendas. In addition, City Clerk Betsy Roy has served her elected office since January 2012, according to the city's website. And in my opinion, there's no glaring disparity among the sexes when it comes to the city's various departments.



However, having no women as voting members — which, I think anyway, is really where it counts — should concern all residents.



As Helt said, “Some would say the city council member doesn’t have direct supervision over employees, but a city council member does have direct supervision over planning the budget or cutting positions from a department."



City leaders are public servants and represent the people. But let's face it: planning a budget, cutting positions from a department — that's power.



And let's also face this: men and women are different.



DIFFERENT TRAITS



A 1999 survey by Richard L. Fox and Robert A. Schuhmann — still cited in government trade publications — found that women city managers have different traits than male counterparts. The results, published in the journal Public Administration Review, state that women "are more likely ... to incorporate citizen input, facilitate communication and encourage citizen involvement in their decision-making process."



It's important to distinguish between appointed city managers and elected city leaders, but it's unlikely that this difference changes men and women's traits much. So the point stands.



And what is perplexing is why a woman didn't run for city council this time. In Laurel Hill, three men — Daniel Lane, Scott Moneypenny and Randy Tickle — and three women — Debra Adams, Joan Smith and Willie Mae Toles — sought office.



When Helt resigned, didn't Crestview's women see this coming?



So why didn't even one woman run for Crestview City Council this past campaign season?



I want to know what you think.



What's your view? Write a letter to the editor or tweet News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni.