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Kings County candidate says fact she's a mom used as campaign tactic against her

Emily Lutz, (right) who is running for re-election in Kings County's District 7, says she's disappointed that she is fielding question from electors who seem to be receiving information designed to discredit her candidacy because she is a young mother. She and Meg Hodges, who is not offering in her own riding, both say they have had to endure comments during their council careers suggesting that women with children should be home raising them instead of holding public office
Emily Lutz, right, who is running for re-election in Kings County's District 7, says she's disappointed that she is fielding question from electors who seem to be receiving information designed to discredit her candidacy because she is a young mother. She and Meg Hodges, who is not offering in her own riding, both say they have had to endure comments during their council careers suggesting that women with children should be home raising them instead of holding public office - Ian Fairclough
KENTVILLE, N.S. —

A Kings County councillor seeking re-election says she's disappointed that someone tried to use the fact she is a young mother against her in the early days of the campaign.

Emily Lutz has three children. She currently represents District 7, is the deputy mayor, and is the vice-president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities.

She said she was campaigning in late August when she started running into people regularly asking her about the municipality paying child care claims, but also about her children and how she could be a councillor and a mother. It happened too often for her not to make the conclusion that someone was trying to wrongly discredit her and keep her from winning the election.

The municipality has a policy of covering child care expenses, which was enacted in 2018 by council after being brought forward by staff. Its purpose was to help councillors be able to fulfill their council duties. It also applies if the councillor has a person with a disability or a parent requiring care. The reimbursement is a taxable benefit and was put in place to try to encourage more diversity on councils.

In 2019-2020, Lutz submitted $2,393 in child care expenses, or the equivalent of about three days a month. The pandemic has meant few in-person meetings so she's hasn't submitted any claims yet in this fiscal year, she said. Some residents were telling her that they heard the municipality was paying for all her daycare costs, but there is a limit. 

Lutz finally felt she had to post a response on her Facebook page on Sept. 6, explaining the policy. 

“I’m not hearing about it so much anymore, I think it started to blow up in (whoever was doing it)'s face.” 

She said she thinks the perpetrators thought they would have more people agreeing with them, but that she has been receiving a lot of support since her post. 


Kings County Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz serves as emcee for the official opening of the new Kings County municipal complex in October 2019. - Kirk Starratt
Kings County Deputy Mayor Emily Lutz serves as emcee for the official opening of the new Kings County municipal complex in October 2019. - Kirk Starratt


There has been no push-back that she's heard of after the allowance was enacted, she said, and it has only come up since the campaign started. No one would say where they heard that she she was having all her daycare costs covered, or the concerns that her children kept her from properly represent her constituents. 

“There are people who have asked ‘do you have enough time to do this with your kids,’” she said. “(Having children) has nothing to do with my ability.”

Lutz said she has even had a councillor tell her in the past that “women should stay home with their kids, because that's what I made my wife do.”

She said there are several people with young children running for council, which is a sign that the policy is working to attract a diverse field seeking election. But she said she would rather be talking about policy issues and the needs of the county while campaigning instead of the attempts to discredit her.

Coun. Meg Hodges, who initially planned to run in her own district but has since changed her mind and is helping Lutz campaign, said that in the past she has heard the same comments as Lutz about mothers needing to be at home and not on council. 


"That's the eternal curse of women in politics and also people of different, diverse backgrounds. We always have to work five times harder to prove that we are worth being there.”

- Kings County Coun. Meg Hodges


She was also contacted by constituents when she was planning to run who told her that they were told she was claiming the child care expense, even though she wasn't.

Her decision not to run wasn't because of the backlash, but because she is focusing on her education full time.

But she said there are still outdated mindsets among some people who think that young mothers shouldn't be councillors.

“That has been said to my face,” she said. “That was in 2017, when I was pregnant and sitting in a meeting.” 

The same type of comments were something she encountered during the last election, as well.

She said that kind of mentality “makes me sad. It makes me sad for them, and it makes me sad for the women in their lives.”

During the debate on the child care costs claim policy, Hodges said, one councillor complained that they should be able claim money for getting someone to look after their cattle.

Hodges said it “puts a fire in me. That's the eternal curse of women in politics and also people of different, diverse backgrounds. We always have to work five times harder to prove that we are worth being there.”

Blake Orman is running for council in District 2 and has young children. He owns his own business and his wife works full time, and he said no one has asked him how he can be a councillor and a father.

He said he was shocked when a fellow candidate told him that it was becoming an issue for some women.

“I've been very up front with people that I'm a stay-at-home dad, and no one has questioned me about that, or asked how I'm going to be able to be a councillor, too,” he said. “Whether a woman has children has no impact on their ability to be on council, and it shouldn't be an issue in the year 2020.”

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