Naples city council discussing updating the city charter with gender-neutral language

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

The City of Naples is catching up to a changing society. City leaders are working to take a gender-neutral approach to the law, which right now, still calls the mayor a “he,” even though a female holds the title.

“The charter is written like many documents from the past with a male bias shall we say,” said Naples City Councilman ray Christman.

The words he, his and him are everywhere: assuming the mayor, city manager and councilmembers are all men.

“Should we also have a charter amendment to clarify the pronouns particularly on the mayor and elsewhere to make them more neutral or inclusive?” asked Councilman Ted Blankenship during a meeting.

Blankenship brought up the issue at the meeting on Nov. 1.

Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann said during that meeting, “I don’t care being called a he, it’s fine with me.”

Heitmann said, “obviously that hasn’t been an issue before. I didn’t take personal offense to it.”

But she still supports bringing the 64-year-old document into the modern age.

The City council is set to discuss the ordinance Wednesday to make the charter language gender-neutral. For instance, changing “He” to simply “The mayor”.

But the change isn’t a simple rewrite, city council can’t just change the city charter, it must let the voters decide.

WINK News asked some voters what they think.

Kim Kawczak of Naples said, “it should be left the way it is. Why change things when you don’t have to.”

Another Naples voter disagreed saying, “it’s very simple and yes I think we should have inclusive language.”

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