In the battle of the sexes, Bob Vogel knows women have the upper hand in Auburn government.
When Vogel takes his seat on the Auburn City Council on Jan. 3, the lone male on the five-member governing body will pay respect to the opposite sex.
He’ll wear pink.
“We did tell Bob that on his first day of swearing-in to office in January, that he may have to wear my pink construction hat,” quipped Linda Blechinger, mayor of the city of 7,600 that straddles Gwinnett and Barrow counties. “He just laughed and said, ‘OK, OK.’ He’s a great sport.”
Vogel, 45, is running unopposed in November for an at-large seat. His election will end Auburn’s two-year streak as one of two municipalities in Georgia in which the city fathers are city mothers. The other city is Hamilton.
But even with Vogel joining the female cast, Auburn is still an anomaly. Of the state’s 536 cities, only seven have governing bodies with just one male, as opposed to 160 with just one female, according to the Georgia Municipal Association.
Half of Auburn’s 3,459 registered voters are women.
Will having a man change Auburn’s dynamic?
“Other than giving it a new male perspective, I don’t think it will,” Councilwoman Donna Scouten said. “Bob has a lot of the same visions that we have.”
Those visions include taking a measured approach to growth amid the economic downtown and keeping infrastructure, such as water and sewer, up to snuff.
Despite being the minority, Vogel doesn’t feel like the odd man out.
As president of the Auburn Dixie Youth League and a member of the Downtown Development Authority, Vogel said he’s already worked with many of the current city leaders.
“To me, it doesn’t matter, male or female,” said Vogel, a 20-year city resident who lives with his wife and two young daughters. “I take them for the seat they sit in, not their gender. I can join that group of ladies up there and be just as strong ... for the citizens.”
Janet Jeanes, a 20-year Auburn resident and vice chairwoman of the DDA, said Vogel will be a good fit on the council.
“I think that would be true if it was Bobette, instead of Bob,” she chuckled.
As for donning pink on his first day in office, Vogel initially said he would slip on a pair of pink socks. A few days later, he agreed to sport a bolder look.
“I might shock them and wear a pink Polo shirt,” he said. “Everyone thinks I’m a real tough guy, but I can be reasonable.”
By the numbers
536: Number of cities in Georgia
2: Number of cities with all-female city councils
116: Number of cities with all-male city councils
7: Number of cities with governing bodies that have just one male
160: Number of cities with governing bodies that have just one female
Source: Georgia Municipal Association
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