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Nashua alderman says boards need more women

Union Leader Correspondent

February 14. 2013 11:22PM

NASHUA - There are significantly more men than women seeking positions on various city boards and committees, a shift that has at least one alderman raising a red flag.

This week, several individuals were appointed to committees, with the majority of those people representing the male gender.

The new appointments mean that two major city boards - the city planning board and the zoning board of adjustment - will be filled with all men, with the exception of one female aldermanic liaison.

"The balance of these boards is not reflective of the community," Alderman-at-large Barbara Pressly said this week, saying the exclusion of women sets the city back by decades.

Pressly said more women need to be sought for various committees, especially important land-use committees such as planning, zoning and conservation boards.

Of the six appointments confirmed Tuesday by the board of aldermen, five of the positions are being filled by men.

"I think this does not represent our citizens," said Pressly, who added that it is important to get a female perspective when dealing with city issues.

Although Pressly supported the appointments, Pressly said that in the future, she will think twice about voting in the affirmative unless more women are being recommended for committee roles.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said Thursday that women are not being excluded from the positions but rather there are fewer ladies showing an interest in the vacant seats.

"I don't think there have ever been an equal amount of women compared to men (on city boards)," said Lozeau. "But I am definitely not discriminating. I can't think of any women that I have turned down."

Lozeau described herself as a strong woman who respects other independent and powerful females.

However, the mayor said she will appreciate whatever help she can get from volunteers - regardless of their gender, race, income or housing.

"We are so fortunate to have so many volunteers," said Lozeau, adding she has appointed about 300 people to various committees since she was elected mayor.

"Sometimes they are women, and sometimes they are not," she said.

In Nashua, there are several boards that have all-male committees, including the airport authority, police commission and fire commission, with the exception of women liaisons to two of those committees.

The housing authority has just one woman and five men appointed, while the downtown improvement committee has just one woman and seven men appointed, not including female aldermanic liaisons.

The conservation commission has three women on the seven-member board, which includes one female alderman, and the board of public works has two women on the seven-member board, which includes Lozeau.

The arts commission has four women representatives. Six out of the 15 aldermen are women, and three females sit on the board of education. Some of the above boards, however, are elected positions and not appointed by the mayor for their terms.

Pressly said it is vitally important to have women sitting on some of these smaller committees, specifically because they often propel females into larger political careers down the road.

Lozeau said the city frequently advertises for various openings on committees and boards, and that she tries to make announcements seeking out potential applicants - male and female.

"I look at them, and I am grateful they are willing to volunteer," she added.

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