Mill Creek Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By Jana Hill
Mill Creek Beacon Editor 

A call to vote | Editor's Note


Last updated 10/19/2020 at 12:49pm

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Rosie the Riveter was an iconic image for women in a campaign to recruit female workers into defense-related jobs during World War II.

No, he couldn't win. Not with that comment about John McCain – decorated veteran and POW. Duty-bound American hero. Not with those other comments too icky to print – after he was interviewed by established female journalist Megyn Kelly.

But he did win. It was 2016.

It is hard to communicate this and be heard – but what I am about to say is not about politics. It is about duty and leadership, and the spirit around both.

And with the partisan branding blazoned across yard signs then and now, it is nearly time to make another set of selections.

As we do, it's time to consider the leadership spirit shown by women. We are the hand that rocks the cradle, and we must restore our place at the table – pushing both poles to align common good through dialogue and problem solving that is framed in logic and fed by artistic mental leaps.

It is our duty to vote.

But as I mention voting, minds bend toward politics and division. Yet I do not see today's era as divided. Not when I double down on objectively viewing the people who identify with the two party lines.

The conservative women within my circle are loyal, devoted to an Americana style mindset for family and friends. Norman Rockwell paintings come to mind, as does Rosie the Riveter. All mental images as I consider the "right wing" element of my clan. Babies are precious. Wife status and motherhood are honorable. Work is for family. And culinary arts are part craft and part love.

The liberal women in my midst match that same mindset but add a flare of expansiveness when it comes to the notions of family. Equity matters. Work is a badge of honor not to be trifled with. Agency is shared in both personal and family relationships – no passes are given for put downs, sidelining, and the cat and mouse veiled as assistance lobbed by those who see female leadership as a threat. My liberal-minded circle insists that people need to feel their feet beneath them, regardless of monetary, ethnic, or other status categories. Bullies get a stare down, complete with a hive of supporters.

In 2016, the right and the left seemed to be moving further apart, per optics. But were they? Maybe, but at our kitchen tables and in our actions, many had never moved apart at all. We were all striving for safety and fulfillment, and the physical and financial health of our communities.

No, this is not about politics. It is about matching the mentality of the leader with the people he or she represents.

With the 2016 national politics setting a groundwork, a mayorship that had previously been bristling with activity came into question. A woman named Karen Guzak faced a push for a new type of government – from weak mayor to strong – then she ran against a newcomer to politics, John Kartak.

In that election, Guzak's face was cut from yard signs. She was pushed out of her mayorship. Bullied and harassed. And once it all shook out, she reset. She took her seat on the Snohomish City Council next to her opponent and continued to serve.

If you are a woman or someone who holds women in high regard, reach back in your memories to 2016 that night that the top of the world shifted.

Recall how women – and the men who hold them up – were left to wonder what would become of us. It appeared we no longer had a place at the table.

Regardless of leanings, each woman who is respected in the workplace, in government service, in the public sphere – she goes home to her circle of men. Her spouse, brothers, friends, and sons.

In 2016, the tacit approval of behaviors at the top would draw on the latent negativity in the hearts and minds downstream of national politics. Guzak endured an unfounded accusation that could have closed her business.

A public figure cannot be libeled unless he or she is the victim of "actual malice." So when it came to slamming her, she was just viewed as a cheap date who would not result in any legal bills.

She showed how much more she was than that, continuing to offer her elegant and at times bristling leadership. Continuing as a business owner and artist. And contributing to my home town of Snohomish, putting duty ahead of a single defeat. That is the fight of a leader – determining a goal as the focus, and relenting gracefully if it is lost. Guzak's actions stood for both women and the kind of men – those on the right and the left – who hold women and duty in high regard.

She took a seat next to the man who won her mayoral seat, and she would continue on until she had served 12 years on the council. She had spent seven of those years as mayor, under the council-manager form of government. Her opponent bested her by under 100 votes in a time when, she recalled recently, "about 40% of our local population did not vote."

Kartak is running for state office now, but that's not the point.

Guzak's insistence to serve after she lost her mayorship was something I was unaware of until later on, when I returned to my newspaper craft in 2019. But once aware, I was elevated by her stance, in an era I found so startling and backwards.

Her actions are a lesson in leadership.

Whether you choose to see a letter and vote blindly to that R or D or instead watch actions more closely. The best leadership is strong enough to let others shine, fierce enough to stare down bullies, duty bound enough to honor the system it serves. It is protective of the least of us, watchful of the most powerful. It is a dignified and problem-solving craft.

We all have a duty to vote. Women must vote on behalf of the equity we offer, by our presence.

It is what we can do.


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