Alderman, Alderwoman, Alderbroad
Can I bang one out in an hour? I’m going to try….
I miss Ward 4. It looks so much more interesting than Ward 10.
Last night Jane Morgan opined, “Alderman, Alderwoman, Alderwhatever. New short blog post.“ My joke in return was, “Alderbroad? Naw… Been done. Heh.”
Alderbroad was, if you’re unaware, Sue Higgins. Oh, how I love Sue Higgins. Equally fueled by dislike and annoyance. She spent a lot of time working on the city finances and, to me, sets the standard for what an alderman should be. Rick Bell thought of her when the audit fiasco started warming up, too. There she is, right at the bottom, being feisty and sensible.
1986 was the first election I voted. I was dismayed when Ms. Higgins came to Dad’s door campaigning. I was amazed to discover I kinda liked about half of what she said, disliked half of what she said, and when I found myself standing at a voting booth she got my X. Sue strikes me as the kind of person who will argue me down until the end of the day, and in the morning remember every single point I made. I respect that.
She also strikes me as the kind of person who would be slightly annoyed that I would call her “Ms. Higgins” and not “Sue”. She called herself the Alderbroad and composed herself with the spice and attitude to bear the title proudly. And I love her for it.
Like Ms. Morgan, I don’t really care what we call our representatives in City Hall. It is acceptable to me to continue using the term, “Alderman.“ Should someone wish to use the term “Alderwoman”, that’s fine by me. If I ever decided to run for city council and by stunning miracle got elected, I’d probably favour the term Alderwoman for myself - just to rock the boat a little. “Alderperson” is fine, but cumbersome. “Councilor” is acceptable to me too, if perhaps a little bland.
Given my opinion of our current city council, I personally prefer the term “Idiot Savant.“ The title should not be one to exault our representatives above ourselves. I feel it needs to be one to remind them who they are meant to be serving. “Representative” is, to me, the most appropriate term for every elected official. It should be spoken with just a tinge of scorn.
Given how little I care about the issue, my singular concern is the cost of changing nameplates and stationary and those day to day costs of picking a new term. And, heaven forfend, what should happen in the next 100 years when “Councilor” is considered highly offensive towards another segment of society. English is a mutable language, we can’t protect against everything right now.
So.. Why? Why is it so important to some people? What makes “Councilor” an inherently better term than “Alderman”? Do we even need consistency throughout city council? Should one prefer to call himself an “Alderman”, do we have to deny it because someone else prefers “Councilor”?
I’ll admit, I may have a blind spot towards the issue. My concern is for council to act decisively, make a decision, and then get back to governance. If we decide to change it, then fine, let’s get on with it and when we replace name plates and stationary we’ll update the title. If we decide to stick with Alderwoman/Alderman, let’s accept it and not forever argue on the fringes. I appreciate it may stick in your craw, but we all have to live with some things that annoy us. Perpetual arguments in this city have just been getting in the way of solving actual problems.