Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza knows the struggles of finding childcare —and is extremely open about it. In fact, the Rhode Island mayor brings his 1-year-old son to work almost daily, including press conferences, meetings, and even ribbon-cuttings. The public aspect of it all has sparked quite the debate.
Mayor Elorza and his wife, Stephanie Gonzalez, told the Associated Press that they made the decision that little Omar would go to work with his dad after assessing their busy and unpredictable schedules. Stephanie is a full-time law student and Mayor Elorza explained that childcare is too expensive for their family’s budget. When it’s not possible for Omar to come to work with his dad, he’s typically in the care of his grandmother.
Critics of Mayor Elorza, however, feel that he’s benefiting from a double standard. They believe that female coworkers wouldn’t be able to bring their child to work on a regular basis if in a similar situation.
“I do think that if a female elected official was doing the same thing, the amount of pushback that we would be getting would be huge,” Providence City Council President Sabina Matos told the Associated Press. “People would say that we’re not capable of doing both jobs.”
The mayor has installed a bassinet and a toy box in his City Hall office. He’s been spotted carting his son into meetings in a stroller, holding him at his hip during news conferences, and on his lap while testifying at the Statehouse. But, detractors argue that many situations were inappropriate. This includes Mayor Elorza holding Omar on his lap while pushing for the right to an abortion or when the boy interuppted a news conference about a shooting by making “goo goo” noises.
Mayor Elorza doesn’t think that his son’s presence holds him back from performing his mayoral duties. In fact, he calls those claims from his naysayers “ridiculous.”
We’re not sure why Mayor Elorza is receiving criticism rather than praise. If a woman in his position was bringing their child to work and occasionally working from home like he does, it would be applauded. That’s why we’re glad Mayor Elorza is sending the message to men and women that it’s OK to be transparent about the difficulties that come with being a working parent. And, his situation confirms what we already know—working parents are the some of the best and most productive multitaskers around!