Last week’s byelection saw not one, but two women get elected. Gladys Attrill was voted in as mayor and Mika Meyer won a council spot. While, there have been many women around the council table, Atrill is only the second woman to take the top job. And it has been a while since Smithers had a female mayor.
In 1993, Carole Young beat out Barrie Carter for the seat.
However, she was unable to finish her first term as mayor.
Young stepped down due to health concerns in January of 1996. During her shortened political career, she saw two of her major campaign initiatives come to fruition— the development of Willowvale subdivision and increased promotion for the Smithers business community and tourism through groups such as North by Northwest, the Chamber of Commerce and the Hotel Association. A former mayor and longstanding councillor, Jim Davidson was appointed acting mayor to serve out the balance of her term since there was less than a year until the next election.
Atrill remembers Young, who has since passed away, as a strong leader.
“She was a part of All West Glass, she was a part of the chamber of commerce, she was a part of council. She was a very active part of the community,” Atrill said.
Atrill hasn’t given too much thought about being the second female to hold the position, but people have mentioned it to her, which has allowed her to reflect on Young’s accomplishments.
“It was a different time,” she said. “She was an extremely competent individual and she deserved the role she was in. She had worked for Smithers in different ways. And that is one thing, it has given me the time to remember the days when Carole was the mayor and was on council.”
Now that three out of the seven council members are female, Atrill hopes it starts to help women be better represented in politics.
“It is gratifying that people don’t perhaps see gender,” she said. “When we look at who we want in elected offices, it is nice to choose well and at the same time give opportunity to people who have had less ability to rise to those ranks.”
Although she hopes people didn’t vote for her only because she is a woman.
“I hope that I have demonstrated a competency and commitment to do the job,” she added.
Atrill and Meyer were scheduled to be sworn in at Tuesday night’s meeting.
“I have every confidence in all of the people there for their competency,” she said. “These are people who are really interested in community and have demonstrated the ability to be there and that is really important.”