Buried not on the front page comes news that Allegheny County Councilwoman Joan Cleary has resigned her seat with no explanation. Her replacement will be selected by the Dems on the Council and will include someone from Baldwin, Brentwood, Castle Shannon, Clairton, Jefferson Hills, Pleasant Hills, South Park, West Elizabeth, and Whitehall.
Cleary was chair of the Council committee on health and human services so it is particularly of interest to this social worker whom they select to fill her seat.
So what does it mean for the LGBTQ community?
First, Cleary was on board the Allegheny County Anti-Discrimination/HRC Ordinance from the get go. Rich Fitzgerald personally told me that fact. Coming from a somewhat conservative swath of the region, it speaks volumes of her commitment to fairness. It most likely speaks to the lessons she's learned as a nurse. I'd like to think Ms. Cleary thought Allegheny County employees deserved health insurance for their families, even if they were gay, but I have no confirmation of that wishfu thinking. What matters is who doesn't. And …pow …wait for the smack downs on that little zinger. (I just can't let it go while people supporting Obamacare deny Onoratocare — hey, I sort of like that).
Her role on health and human services is critical. As a practicioner, she brough invaluable insight from the trenches. Whether she worked in cosmetic surgery or on the streets, she surely experienced the best and worst of our health care system. I can't imagine mastering the County's vast Departments of Health and Human Service as a PT councilor on top of the day to day work. We are fortunate with a lot of resources and programs, but it is important to have a watchdog.
I've had the privilege of working in the health, housing child welfare, mental health and mental retardation fields during my career. I've worked with people living in poverty through all of it. I want someone experienced, smart and committed to equality in this seat.
I don't want to read this next year (Cleary voted against this — she probably read it).