At least eight people appear on a menu called "Charleston's Next Mayor."
Some show up in ink like John Tecklenburg and Dean Reigel. Others are scribbled in pencil, including Aubry Alexander, Leon Stavrinakis, Dudley Gregorie and Mike Seekings.
All of them are hoping to entice voters to lock in their orders early. "Choose now!" is their message.
Project XX SC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with a mission to get more women elected to office in South Carolina. Our state is 49th in the U.S. for women elected to leadership positions.
In Charleston, 53 percent of our population are women, and 55 percent of our registered voters are women.
And yet, in the city's 343-year history, there has never been a woman elected mayor.
Prior to Joe Riley's first campaign for mayor in 1975, all mayoral candidates ran for election along with a slate of City Council candidates. And those City Council candidates were invariably white males.
Joe Riley changed that. He believed that council members should be chosen and elected by the people. Hence, he ushered in a different approach that brought about the election of women and African-Americans to City Council.
Politicians, former politicians and political operatives looking at the 2015 mayoral race want to book early orders in hopes of showing they are the most popular item on the menu - thus discouraging additional entrees.
Incumbency, even if the office is different, is recognized by scholars of political science as an institutional constraint on increasing the number of women in leadership positions. Since men make up the majority of incumbents, an "early order" strategy shuts women out.
We are being served up the same old and familiar menu - and it's not good for us.
It is likely that at least one or two women will decide to run to become the next mayor of Charleston.
Our community will benefit from a complete election season menu offering, with a variety of options including women.
Social science research studies indicate that in general, women in government tend to be more inclusive, more oriented towards consensus, and more interested in finding solutions than in gaining power.
We all saw those characteristics at work recently, when the women in Congress led a successful effort to forge a compromise solution to the federal government shutdown.
The election for mayor is almost two years away.
If you're asked to order now, just say:
"No - I'll wait to see the full menu. Come back next year!"
Project XX South Carolina was co-founded by Ginny Deerin, non-profit leader, and Nikki Hardin, founder of Skirt! Magazine. For more information: projectxxsc.com.
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