Cook: Mother's Day and the political ceiling

Cook: Mother's Day and the political ceiling

May 13th, 2018 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

Aloyse (pronounced AL-oh-weez) Brown is running as a Democrat for Hamilton County mayor.

Aloyse (pronounced AL-oh-weez) Brown is running as a...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Among the Mother's Day bouquets and brunches, make sure you also give your mom a voter registration card.

Because Mother's Day is also a political moment.

Mothers and women, long under-represented in local and national politics, have filled recent ballots like never before. From Diane Black and Beth Harwell to Dr. Danielle Mitchell and Marsha Blackburn to the half dozen or so local female candidates in the May primary or August general election, Tennessee women and mothers are challenging both long-held gender shibboleths and the halls of power.

And it's time.

You won't find a specific endorsement here; nor will you find a blanket claim to vote for all women.

But you will see a clear and forceful call to move beyond antiquated views that women are political afterthoughts.

It's time we realize that motherhood and political action can be synonymous.

Consider the candidacy of Aloyse Brown.

I first met Brown at an amusement park. It was a wedding reception; we both knew the brilliant bride.

Standing near the roller coaster, Brown said she was running for county mayor.

My first thought: there's no way.

Here? In Republican-rich Hamilton County? A Democrat and a woman?

But then, you listen to Brown talk and quickly realize the solid ground upon which she stands; you get excited by the way she articulates her vision; you remember how a surprised Donald Trump won the White House through galvanized voters everyone had neglected and overlooked; you recognize that more and more Southern voters now view women as effective and creative leaders; then, you look back at Brown, and think:

It could be her.

On Aug. 2, Aloyse Brown, 40, could become the first female mayor in the history of Hamilton County.

And the first mother.

"The fact that in 2018, Hamilton County has its first opportunity to elect a female mayor is itself a celebration of how far women have come, but it's also a reminder of the challenges that remain," she said.

Sure, victory's a long shot. A long, long shot.

And Brown isn't courting an easy sympathy vote — don't vote for me simply because I'm a woman, she says. However, she is acutely aware of the double standards and gravity that prevent women and mothers from entering political life, especially in Tennessee, ranked one of the worst states for women. (Brown's campaign team couldn't find evidence that a woman had ever run — ever! — for county mayor.)

"Women in the workplace have to prove ourselves times two," she said. "We have to continue to work harder because the system was designed without us. But the research shows that women are stronger leaders."

Brown has two children — Wolcott, 4, and Fox, 2 — with her husband, Mac, a local priest. She is a program manager for a national nonprofit that builds church pensions; she routinely oversees complex budgets, client relationships, data and resources.

She's built a platform around an urgent commitment to public schools, a pro-active approach to problem-solving — jail overcrowding can be solved in other ways besides building a new jail, she says — and more citizen input and participation.

"It's not too much to say that I'm running for mayor because I'm a mother, and that I'm running for mayor on behalf of the mothers in our community," she said.

So can Brown and other women running in Tennessee win?

There are roughly 192,600 registered voters in Hamilton County, according to the Election Commission.

Half are women.

In the May 1 election, only 10 percent of voters went to the polls.

That leaves 90 percent of voters.

Sure, galvanizing that 90 percent is the dream of all underdog candidates.

What if Brown energizes enough people to earn another 5 percent of voters? Or even 3 percent? What if the women of Hamilton County — nearly 100,000 voters — decide to back Brown?

Sooner or later, someone has to break the political ceiling.

So this Mother's Day, let fathers and sons join mothers and daughters in opening our hearts and minds wider politically, culturally, economically. Research specifically done by the Harvard Business Review shows how women excel, sometimes surpassing men, in leadership. It's time to rejoice over their presence on the ballot.

Because if we say we love and respect our mothers on this day, then we ought to also love and respect them on Election Day.

David Cook writes a Sunday column and can be reached at dcook@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook at DavidCookTFP.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315
Email: webeditor@timesfreepress.com