Woman of Substance
To the Editor:
I recently have become interested in local politics since becoming a full-time resident on Long Beach Island for the last four years. Living here I have seen the ebb and flow of the Island, as renters arrive and depart during the summer, owners come during the spring and fall and only a few houses remain alive during the winter. It is a wonderful experience to be a resident here, watching the Island change with the seasons as well as giving me a rare view of seeing school buses on the avenue, cashiers year ’round at the markets and what the Island is like off-season.
Last weekend I attended a luncheon to meet many of the candidates running for offices in the upcoming Ocean County elections. As I looked around the room and saw speaker after speaker of men running for offices, I wondered where is the balance. Convention tells us that we always need a balance to keep things running smoothly. When there is too much of anything, things can get lopsided. Too much sugar can lead to diabetes. Too much anger can lead to war. Too many chiefs can lead to stalemate. So I was so relieved to be introduced to Danni, a young, energetic woman who was a running mate for this committee of three board of commissioners on LBI.
Yes, Danni (short for Danielle) is a woman whose name may have fooled you. She is a Fulbright Scholar who grew up on Long Beach Island and was an All-American track star graduating from Southern Regional High School at the top of her class. She has a master’s from the London School of Economics and has worked for the U.S. State Department while living in England. She has helped run a family business (Hagler’s Marina) and has chosen to make LBI her home and her passion.
That is a short version of Danni’s impressive resume. But what I was most impressed with, in this sea of men (and no, I don’t dislike men, I am married to one and have two sons and a daughter) was this young woman who felt it important enough and self-assured enough to lend her voice in a predominantly boys club.
She is a young woman who is not intimidated but inspired to step up and do that work that needs to be done to make LBI even better than it already is: to work to make sure that our tax dollars are spent wisely as she has experience in running a business, to work for the educational system here as she has a young daughter in it, and, as she has lived abroad, to know the world is bigger than just the renters in the summer. Her goal is to make LBI welcoming for all, those who come here for their summer rentals as well as for the locals who live here who deserve the respect and support that they need throughout the year. She understands that we live on a barrier island that is a fragile environment and must take future action to respect that, too.
I am in the medical profession where I treat both men and women. I recently put an “apology jar” in my rooms where every time one of my patients apologizes to me I ask them to put a quarter in the jar. I started this after observing that women apologize for everything possible under the sun – that’s the way we think (I’m sorry … for talking so loud, for not shaving my legs, for complaining too much, for getting emotional, for my nail polish being chipped) while men come for the treatment, not worrying about how they appear to the practitioner. I see how my sons ask easily for things in life they think they deserve, where women apologize their way to be heard.
We are taught how to cooperate not compete in school. We are listeners and nurturers. We try to include. It is our socialization. We deal with elderly parents, sick children, balancing work and home life, getting a home-cooked meal on the table, keeping everyone’s schedule straight, worrying if working when we have young children is affecting our children, worrying if not working when we feel stifled or need the income is affecting our children. The list is endless. I’m sure if you are a woman reading this you can easily add your own concerns.
The point is that it is necessary to have a woman stand up for the women in our community who understands women’s issues. The women I have met who live on this Island run local businesses, are caretakers for their ailing spouses or are retired and living on a fixed income. Men have been well represented in this local government so we don’t have to wonder if that point of view is covered. We need the balance of both, as we are both part of this community, a man and a woman’s perspective, and I am proud to see a young, accomplished woman of substance with an impressive background step up to represent us in our own little local political sphere.
Good luck to you, Danni Hagler, and your equally impressive male counterparts who understood the need for a woman on the ticket in this local election. I feel inspired and encouraged by what the next chapter of LBI’s future has in store.
Long Beach Township