Jan 232013

By Julie Weissner
Sylvia Allen and Dawnafe Whitesinger were elected to the Navajo County Board of Supervisors last November, the first women to hold such positions here.
When asked how she felt about being one of the first women elected to the board, Allen relayed, “I am not really into gender stuff, I just want to go out there and do the best I can. I hope that no one would vote or not vote for me because I am a woman. Women are needed in government; they bring something to politics that is sometimes missing.
“Don’t get me wrong, men are great leaders and have their own gift. However, they are more scientifically oriented, and more into facts and figures.
“Women, in general, tend to bring a good balance to government; more common sense, generally they are more sensitive to family issues, although they can get emotional sometimes.”
Allen, who just left the state senate, seems to be happy being closer to home, noting that, “rural governments are much more involved with natural resource issues than urban counties.
“I am very happy to be elected to the board of supervisors, where my grandfather Joe Peterson served in 1924, and also served in the Arizona Territorial Legislature. I was able to follow in his footsteps and serve at the capitol as well,” she concluded.
Responding to the same question, Whitesinger noted, “I hadn’t really thought of it in that way. I was brought up in a culture where women are natural leaders; there was nothing unusual about it to me. When I started to think about it, it could be another way of opening doors for other women.”
Whitesinger was asked to run for the board by a group of people, “Probably because of the work I did in Cibecue, but didn’t have the intention of being in an elected seat.
“I did a Google search to find out what other things women did that were firsts, and that made me think about how I am in that group of firsts for women now. I feel that it will be empowering to other women,” she continued.
“I feel blessed to grow up in a cultural background that has a unique perspective on women.
“I think there can be a lot of possibilities in this position, like building better ties. I feel that somehow communication has broken down, which is no one’s fault; it’s just how the system has been set up. I would like to serve as best I can to break down barriers and misconceptions to allow our communities to become more effective,” said the new board member.