Sunday, July 21, 1996
Time to let GOP women in the club

BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hello, girls? Ladies? Women? Fellow sisters? Are you paying attention out there?

After six years, Nick Vehr has resigned his position as a Cincinnati councilman to pursue his dream of making our city home to the Olympics in 2008. He will leave at the end of August.

Apparently he thinks he can do a better job of bringing the Olympics here by serving on a committee than by serving on the city's governing body, which probably says something about the declining influence of City Council. It also may say something about what he thinks his chances are for wresting the gavel from Mayor Roxanne Qualls.

Because Mr. Vehr is a Republican, the men who run that party will get to pick his successor. If they don't pick a woman, we should scream bloody murder. All of us.

In other words. . .

Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. That sounds a little shrill, doesn't it? Perhaps I could put it another way?

Now that the admirable Mr. Vehr, who is the consummate west-side white guy, has announced his intention of leaving Cincinnati City Council to bring glory and riches upon us all, why doesn't the Republican Party announce its intention of welcoming women to the fold?

And if they do not, the women of both parties should raise their voices. This is our city, too. And we're not beggars.

We've got our feet in the doors of a lot of corner offices. We are energetic. We are grateful for attention. Some of us even have money. We're not dangerous. (Present company excepted.) We're very good workers, as you well know.

And there are a lot of us.

Of the nine seats on city council, however, only three are occupied by women - Minette Cooper, Roxanne Qualls and Bobbie Sterne. None of them is Republican. And this is the party that got us the vote. Boy, have things gone sour since then.

''It isn't just that upscale professional women are having doubts about the GOP,'' reports the Wall Street Journal. ''Some are in open rebellion, expressing the kind of profound dissatisfaction that was unleashed by white men in 1994, leading to the GOP takeover of the House, and by Democratic women in 1992 who helped elect four new female Democratic senators.''

OK, so maybe we're a little dangerous.

Around here, the leadership has changed. Former GOP chief Gene Ruehlman earned his stripes in the '50s and '60s, when our political role was licking stamps. Mike Allen, the ambitious 40-year-old who became Hamilton County Republican Party chairman in April, is the new generation. So, maybe we can expect more enlightened treatment from him.

Finding a winner

Mr. Allen's challenge is to get as many Republicans in office as possible, so he says he is looking for someone who can govern effectively and hang onto the seat in the 1997 election. It would be helpful if he could find a Republican who can get votes from Democrats.

There are capable women all over the city, one or two right under GOP noses. Jeanette Cissell finished 10th in the last race just 1,528 votes behind ninth-place Tyrone Yates. Even better, according to a lot of professional women of both parties, would be Diane Goldsmith.

So what if she doesn't have a well-known husband or play poker with Joe Deters and Bob Bedinghaus. As Guy Guckenberger's aide, she has worked in city and county government for 15 years. She's smart, honest and knows the players. Five kids, Women Helping Women, Women's Political Caucus, Republican Woman's Club, the Woman's City Club.

She's not just a woman, but a card-carrying, dues-paying one.

But maybe the Republican Party has somebody else in mind. Maybe they'll choose a woman. Or maybe they won't. That's the power they have. But we still have the power to vote. And there are a lot of us.

Hello, boys? Gentlemen? Men? Fellow citizens? Are you paying attention out there?

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU-FM (91.7 MHz) and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.