AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Following a recent election, the Aiken City Council will bring a new face to the table. The move is causing another historic event in the City. The newly-elected City is majority women and officials say that’s a good thing.
“I am extremely excited,” Mayor Pro Tem Gail Bush Diggs told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk when asked about the history in the making.
In her nearly 10 years on the Aiken City Council, Diggs was used to being in the minority in the room making decisions that affect the day-to-day lives of the more than 30,000 residents of the City. But that time is soon coming to an end.
“I hadn’t really thought about that until we were way into the campaign,” newly-elected representative of District 3 Kay Biermann Brohl said.
During the City of Aiken’s entire history, only seven women have been elected to public office. The first is Lessie Price who first ran unsuccessfully at large in 1975, becoming the first female to run for a municipal office. She later ran a second time at large in 1987 becoming the first female elected to a post. She’s served for 32 years. Then came Beverly Clyburn, Karen Papouchado, Jane Vaughters, Gail Diggs, Andreá Gregory, and now Kay Biermann Brohl.
“I just think it shows that we don’t have to pay attention to a lot of things that people used to pay attention to,” Brohl shared. “Whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re black or white, you know, whether you’re rich or poor, those don’t come into the picture. They look at what you stand for, what you believe, what your experiences and they go from that,” she added.
Women historically had lower-than-average representation at all levels of politics. “You know, I think they, they could view things differently, do things differently, bring human types of inclusivity, diversity, and knowledge and intelligence to all situations,” Associate Professor at Augusta University Dr. Craig Albert said.
Dr. Albert attributes the shift, in part, to the continuation of interest among women thanks to a larger shift in national politics. “For centuries, we’ve been missing out on the full picture of what a community needs. Now in the City of Aiken, you’ll have the majority of the population represented better, more fully and more representatively,” he said. “So [women] bring everything into the picture, provide a more full representation of the community at large, which is the entire purpose of democracy,” he added.
Beginning their terms is not enough to serve as a symbol for underserved communities. Many are pledging to take an active role in representing and listening to you.
“When I moved here, you could shoot a cannon down Laurens Street and not hit anything. But I have to say it’s not that way, thankfully, anymore. So we want to keep that area revitalized and we want that small-town quaint feel to spread to other areas,” Brohl said.
“We have so many projects on the table. I’m looking forward to this pool at Smith Hazel. I’m looking forward to the hospital property being developed. I’m looking forward to two new additions to this district — one being Presley station, a housing development, and I’m looking forward to Children’s Place and their new facility. So good things are happening in the City,” Diggs said. “I think people are looking forward to seeing how well we work together and the changes that we will make within the City. So ask me next year how it’s going because it’s going to be different, but it’s gonna be good.” Diggs added.
If you would like to see your City Council in action, those meetings are typically held at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday of each month at the City of Aiken Municipal Building at 214 Park Ave SW.