TIFFIN, Iowa - The city of Tiffin received a Certificate of Gender Equality last month. It’s one of only only a handful of cities in Iowa to achieve that distinction from the Carrie Chapman Catt Center at Iowa State University.
City administrator and clerk Michon Jackson also serves as Tiffin’s zoning administrator and finance director. In addition to those responsibilities, she’s worked hard to meet a state law that went into effect in 2012, requiring gender balance across all boards and commissions in Iowa’s cities and counties.
“Right now, I’m going to have an opening coming up for my zoning board of adjustment,” Jackson said. “Right now, I have three women and two men on there. One of the men is moving up to my planning commission, so I’ll be posting a male opening.”
Jackson is constantly on the lookout for potential candidates, but she said having a good mix of males and females helps even out every decision and vote.
“It’s a good feeling to know that we are getting a good, round view from everybody of what they think should happen in the city and offer opinions,” Jackson explained.
For Mayor Steve Berner, it feels good to know that Tiffin is setting an example for other cities.
“I was really surprised that we’re one of the very few that have been doing it since it became a law,” Berner told us.
Focusing on Tiffin’s achievements, former State Senator Jean Lloyd-Jones had a positive take.
“It’s really so exciting to hear Tiffin has complied with the law and reached gender balance,” said Lloyd-Jones outside her Iowa City home. But viewing Iowa as a whole, as she put it, “there’s a lot of work to be done.”
She said more women need to get involved in politics on the local level.
“That’s the pool that, eventually, needs to be broadened so that we can get more women running for the legislature and Congress, and hopefully one day we’ll have a woman governor,” Lloyd-Jones told us. As one of only two states to never send a woman to Congress or the governor’s seat, she says Iowa is ready for more progress. Lloyd-Jones had a hand in legislation that went into effect back in 1987, requiring gender balance across state-level boards and commissions. However, she said when it comes to women getting into upper-echelon leadership positions, even in businesses, there’s still a glass ceiling that needs to be shattered.
Other Iowa cities to have recently received the gender equality certificate include Coralville, DeWitt, and Wilton.
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