Kettering council women majority historic for city, among few in Ohio’s larger cities

For the first time in its history, Kettering City Council has a majority of its seats filled by women. CONTRIBUTED
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For the first time in its history, Kettering City Council has a majority of its seats filled by women. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Women for the first time constitute a majority on Kettering City Council, making it one of the few legislative bodies in Ohio’s larger cities where females outnumber males.

Toledo and Youngstown are the only other of the state’s cities with populations of at least 50,000 which has more women than men on its council or commission while males hold slim majorities in Cincinnati, Columbus and Hamilton, data shows.

All four women on Kettering’s council were elected in November as Mayor Peggy Lehner, and Councilwomen Lisa Duvall and Jyl Hall won first terms while Jacque Fisher was re-elected to a second one.

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Peggy Lehner

Credit: FILE

Peggy Lehner
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Peggy Lehner

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

The change on Kettering council comes at a time when an Ohio group says that fewer than a third of all elected offices in the state are held by women, who constitute 51% of its population, according to the U.S. Census.

“People are ready for change politically,” said Hall, a first-time candidate and the daughter of former U.S. Ambassador Tony Hall. “They’re ready for change across the board in a lot of different ways.”

“Kettering has done a good job in city government,” she added. “It’s a well-run city government. But it’s clearly time to have more women to enhance the community even more.”

Hall, new Dayton City Commissioner Shenise Turner-Sloss and incumbent Huber Heights councilwoman Nancy Byrge were among the successful Dayton-area candidates backed in November by the Matriots, a political action committee which promotes women seeking election in Ohio.

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Jacque Fisher. FILE

Credit: FILE

Jacque Fisher. FILE
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Jacque Fisher. FILE

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

Founded in 2017, the Matriots this past year for the first time endorsed women in every kind of non-judicial campaign across the state and its website states that more than 80 of the nearly 140 candidates it supported won.

The Matriots’ research shows that females hold 29% of the nearly 18,000 elected Ohio seats and “women show the most strength at the school board level,” according to the organization.

A Kettering school board appointment was what Lehner, 71, unsuccessfully sought in 2020 before the former state senator ran for mayor.

First elected to a council seat in 1997, Lehner said having four women on a panel that previously never had more than two at one time is “kind of exciting” and is “going to make a dramatic difference.”

Hall expressed similar thoughts.

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Lisa M. Duvall. FILE

Credit: STEPHEN LEWIS

Lisa M. Duvall. FILE
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Lisa M. Duvall. FILE

Credit: STEPHEN LEWIS

Credit: STEPHEN LEWIS

“There’s so much to show how empowering women in leadership benefits communities and businesses,” she said. “In the public sector, women tend to prioritize education, health and how (a) policy is going to effect a family.”

Hall also said women tend to “emphasize constituent services” and “think about people who might fall through the cracks through no fault of their own.”

Fisher, 56, shares some of those same concerns, but said she does not think a female majority will dramatically impact Kettering council’s future issues.

“I don’t think it’s going to be anything significant in that — no matter whether we’re male or female — we all bring our own knowledge, skills and abilities…to each situation,” she said.

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Jyl Hall. FILE

Credit: FILE

Jyl Hall. FILE
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Jyl Hall. FILE

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

What is likely to have a greater impact, Fisher said, will be the fresh perspectives of Duvall and Hall, who both at 45 are the youngest of the seven members.

“We have two women who are younger than retired and they have children” in schools, she said. “And that’s the representation that has been lacking in general no matter what the gender has been.

“So with Jyl and Lisa now on city council,” Fisher added, “that’s a slice of our community that hasn’t always been well represented.”

ExploreEARLIER: Kettering’s longest serving mayor reflects on tenure as final term ends


WOMEN SERVING

The following Ohio cities with populations of 50,000 or more have at least 40% of seats in their legislative bodies occupied by women.

City Population % of women

Columbus 905,748 42

Cincinnati 309,317 44

Toledo 270,871 58

Parma 81,146 40

Lorain 65,211 41

Hamilton 63,399 46

Youngstown 60,068 57

Kettering 57,862 57

Cuyahoga Falls 51,114 44

SOURCES: ohio-demographics.com and Ohio city websites.

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