Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roberts: I didn't get shoved aside because I'm a woman

Jennifer Roberts talked with me this morning about why she decided to drop a provocative statement about men shoving women aside that was in a draft of her remarks at Tuesday night’s county commissioners meeting. Democrat Harold Cogdell seized the commissioners’ chairmanship from Roberts with the backing of the board’s four Republicans.

In a draft of her remarks, Roberts said: “I am not the first woman who has been shoved aside by a man, and I won’t be the last.” But she did not say that at the meeting.

“I struck it because I realized it was not what I wanted to say. It is what women have said to me and it’s not what I wanted to say,” Roberts told me. “It’s not really about that at all. These things happen in politics regardless of race or gender. It’s politics. It’s not one particular gender or category.

“A lot of women have expressed their anger to me because they do feel like it might have been different had I been Parks Helms or someone else. I don’t have any reason to believe that’s true. If people can make a deal to get something they want, then they do it.

“You want to appreciate your constituents and understand their perspective but sometimes you get carried away and realize it’s more their perspective than yours and you realize, ‘I don’t feel that way.’ Being overly empathetic, I don’t know. That’s why you have several drafts of something, to convey what you really mean.”

Roberts was smart to strike the line. It would have been unnecessarily divisive – and wrong. Roberts wasn’t shoved aside because Cogdell’s a man and she’s a woman. She was shoved aside by an overly ambitious politician who saw an opportunity and took it.

On related fronts:

-- Roberts said it’s “a misinterpretation” to say that she has suggested that women are discriminated against in politics. “What I have said is we govern ourselves better when we have the voice of women as well as the voice of men. Certain issues get more attention when women’s voices are stronger. … Where we can increase (the number of elected women) we usually have better outcomes because there are more diverse voices at the table.” She cited issues around child care and preschool education as one example of something that is harmed when women aren’t at the political table.

-- Women are underrepresented in public office in part, she said, because they sometimes have a harder time raising money than men. “I don’t know if it’s because you’re the newcomer, you don’t have that old guys network of people who are all in your law firm and they all give a thousand bucks.”

-- I told her it was notable that she said in her concession speech “I have kept my promises to the Democratic Party.” She said: “I do believe in being fair. I do believe in inclusion, not just racial, ethnic, religious, etc., but also sexual orientation. We need all those different voices and I don’t believe the Republican Party has that same sense that they celebrate diverse voices because diverse voices learn from each other. I don’t get that feeling from the Republican Party at all.”

She may have kept her promises to the Democratic Party, but emphasizing that party loyalty could make it harder for her to appeal to a broader base of voters in her next run for higher office.

-- Speaking of her next run, there might not be one in 2012. Roberts suggested she was eyeing higher office when she announced last month that she wouldn’t run for county commissioner again. This morning, she said that might be on hold. “I’m pretty sure I’m not a candidate in 2012 but I can’t say that for sure. I’m pretty sure I want to take that step back and be more deliberative. … You really need to step out every so often and keep your ideas fresh.”

-- Taylor Batten


Skippy said...

Jennifer, it will not be "party loyalty" that keeps you running for higher office, trust me.

todd said...

Pretty bad when a liberal like Cogdell thinks you're too liberal..

One Discerner said...

"overly ambitious politician" was the correct assessment. The only thing missing was the plane ride on Air Force One with Reagan and Helms.

razorsedge said...

It will be hard for you to make the case that Cogdell is a more ambitious politician than Jennifer. She was petty during this process. Why? Because she wanted more than anything to be on the big stage during the DNC. But regardless of how good or bad a job Cogdell does as chairman, it could be no worse than the one Jennifer has done, IMO. She has arrogantly defended Jones. And, worse, she has made a concerted effort to increase spending on social services and schools in poorer areas while showing total disregard for the middle class families who are struggling in this economy and who are footing the bill for the ever increasing number who depend on the government. This was evident last night when she proudly exhibited the Observer story on the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor in Mecklenburg County. Obviously, she did not consider the fact that those changing demographics might be due in large part to the choices people are making about where to live--Meck County where taxes are high and schools are "urban," or Union and Iredell counties, where taxes are lower and schools are perceived to be better.

ThaQueenCity said...

"Roberts: I didn't get shoved aside because I'm a woman"

NO you didn't, you got booted aside because you pander to one demographic only; forgetting there are thousands more people in this county you are supposed to represent! But you continually throw us under the bus with your property tax increases and while supporting a corrupt county manager! Whatever he has on you, please remember, truth always come to light eventually.

BTW this article in NO way helps you save face either. I will do all I can to help the other side should you ever run for anything else.

Wiley Coyote said...

Hey um, Jenny?

Do you think you could get our $7 million dollars back from the Whitewater Center before you leave?


An Independent, White, middle class taxpayer...

Jason said...

"Overly ambitious"? No, that would only be true if he had lost.

kantstanzya said...

I appreciate that Jennifer Roberts has backtracked from her initial comments. But it is telling that the default position for Democrats is always that they have been unfairly treated in some manner....discrimiated by sex, race, etc. This attitude has allowed them to build a large constituencies who see themselves as victims.

I notice Ms. Roberts couldn't help herself but to say she "doesn't have the same sense that Republicans celebrate diverse voices." She means that as a dig at Republicans and conservatives. But I take it as a compliment. We don't care about race, sex, ethnicity, etc. We try and treat everyone as equals...with equal abilities and opportunities.It is pathetic that even though it was one of her own party who turned on her she still wants to blame Republicans for something.

If you are looking for special treatment and victimhood you have a permanent home in the Democratic Party.

Lynne Franchina said...

Thank you for representing women and Charlotte well in an treacherous situation. I am very sorry to see you go and hope that we will see you again. Please do not compromise on what you think is important. You have been a voice for many.

Bob said...

Funny, I recall reading today about another over zealous politician that was friends with the guy on Air Force One, he just got 14 years today!

Veronica said...

"“A lot of women have expressed their anger to me because they do feel like it might have been different had I been Parks Helms..."

So it wasn't about being a woman but it's ok if anyone thinks that.

Nice puff piece, Taylor.

Wiley Coyote said...

"“A lot of women have expressed their anger to me because they do feel like it might have been different had I been Parks Helms..."

Awww..Jen, you ARE like Parks Helms!...

Tax and spend on anything!...

dxcamp2 said...

It is amazing the Dems see just about everything is terms of RACE, CLASS and/or GENDER.

DistrictSix said...

Thank Jennifer for the use of the graphic showing the decline in Charlotte/Mecklenburg.

It appeared that the elected officials had missed that article as no on seemed to be using it as a base on which to stop the decline it reported.

Now we see the party which has been in power during the majority of that decline, is using the decline as fodder for inciting voters.

We hope one day the party she so strongly supports might use it as a starting point to stop the reported decline.

Andrew said...

Raise taxes during a recession! Solid, solid move, Jen.

Garth Vader said...

"I want to encourage new leaders to step forward" - Jennifer Roberts, November 14th, announcing that she would not run for re-election

"...except if they're male or black" - Jennifer Roberts, every day since November 14th

RobNClt said...

"She cited issues around child care and preschool education as one example of something that is harmed when women aren’t at the political table."

Those are always issues for women since so many of them have babies by men who will never support them in any way, shape, or form. They look for government to take someone else's money to support their children in the manner they want it done. Pre school has become the thing to do for so many children, why, because their parents will not teach them the alphabet, numbers, colors, or anything else. In this case we will never be able to solve problems because all we do is throw money at them rather than force parents to be parents. How do you do that, by any means necessary!