Kate Rogers, only woman on Fredericton council, seeks mayor's job

·3 min read

Coun. Kate Rogers, who once noted a sometimes "toxic" climate on the male-dominated Fredericton council, will run for the mayor's job this spring.

Rogers announced her plan to run in the May 10 election in a two-minute video posted to Twitter on Wednesday.

"Fredericton is growing and leadership at city hall must encourage development that positions our city to thrive, focuses on the environment and ensures that people, businesses and the community have the supports they need," Rogers, the only woman on council, said in the video.

"A leadership that is diverse, representative and includes many different perspectives in its decision-making."

Rogers, chair of the city's affordable housing committee, becomes the second woman to declare interest in the mayor's job. Corinne Hersey announced her bid in 2020, before the election scheduled for last May was postponed because of the pandemic.

Mayor Mike O'Brien hasn't officially announced whether he will run for a second term.

A push for gender parity

Rogers's decision comes more than a year after she spoke publicly about her desire to see increased gender diversity on council and committees.

In July 2019, she said the male-dominated council at times felt "toxic," adding that as the only woman, she felt like she was in "a foreign space."

Many councillors have since gone through diversity training.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

In an interview Wednesday, Rogers said her choice to speak out about her experience on council was difficult but has led to improved relations with her colleagues.

"It's a nice group of people, and I feel they've been responsive and it's a better place since having done that, but it was hard and it shouldn't have fallen on the sole woman councillor to have done that," she said.

Desire to be role model

A woman has never been mayor of Fredericton, Shasta Stairs, a spokesperson for the city, confirmed.

Rogers was first elected councillor for Ward 11 in 2012 and again won her seat in the 2016 election, according to her bio on the City of Fredericton's website.

In her first term on council, she served as chair of the community services committee, chair of the arts and culture committee and member of the development and finance committees, as well as council representative for Downtown Fredericton Inc.

She also served as deputy mayor for two years, and outside of council, had a career in the non-profit sector.

With her bid to fill the mayor's seat, Rogers said she wants to work on improving access to affordable housing for residents and push along projects such as the construction of a new performing arts centre and swimming pool.

She's also hoping she can help inspire the next generation of leaders.

"There are no female role models who have been the mayor of Fredericton, so If I can serve in that capacity for younger generations of women, if they can then look at that role and think 'Oh yeah, we can have a woman in that position'... I will feel a huge sense of accomplishment."

More woman candidates possibly incoming

Kathi Zwicker, co-lead of Women + in Politics Fredericton, said she was "elated" to learn Rogers will run for mayor.

Her newly formed group has been working for a few months at offering resources and mentorship to women who are interested in running for a seat at the council table this spring.

So far, 15 women have indicated they plan to run or are thinking about running.

"It's so great to have a role model like Kate running for mayor," Zwicker said.

"It encourages other women to come forth and declare themselves. Women work in teams, and knowing we will have someone potentially leading that team of Kate's calibre is important to us."