This week’s “Gender Politics?” article asks why Helene Schneider has so little support among women voters, noting her failure to get endorsements from either the Women’s Political Committee (despite being a past president) or Democratic Women of Santa Barbara County. Meanwhile, Supervisor Salud Carbajal has received the Dem Women endorsement and support from almost every major woman leader in the community.
The answer is in the story, which notes that Salud received the Planned Parenthood “Giraffe Award” for “sticking his neck out for choice.” If there is one thing that I have seen Salud do again and again, it is to stick his neck out, even when it gets pretty thoroughly hacked at. He stayed out front for nearly two years as we worked on the county’s highly successful Responsible Pet Ownership Ordinance; he stood up in support of both Measure M and Measure P; and he was an early voice against increased oil train traffic.
Where was Helene? When asked to help with the Responsible Pet Ownership Ordinance in the city, her operative called to tell me that she was handing it off to surrogates to avoid being associated with the controversy. She steered clear of the bipartisan campaign against Measure M, which would have locked the county into infrastructure spending at the expense of other key services. When approached about Measure P (the anti-fracking initiative), she promised to endorse, then spent the rest of the campaign dodging us, never delivering on that promise.
It’s about leadership and courage, not about gender. That’s the explanation.