Mayoral hopeful left Jehovah’s Witnesses

London’s latest mayoral candidate spent years going door-to-door for a faith that bars members from voting or holding office, a religion — Jehovah’s Witnesses — whose members, she says, now shun her.

So while most candidates announce how proud they’d be to serve citizens, when Cynthia Etheridge says it, it has an air of authenticity.

“Filing to run for mayor makes me so proud to be a Canadian,” Etheridge said.

Etheridge, 39, was 18 when she married a Jehovah’s Witness. Over time, she grew frustrated by what she describes as the subjugation of women by men.

Women couldn’t give sermons in their place of worship. When she objected to only men handling family financial affairs, she says she was called a “Jezebel.”

Four years ago, she left the Jehovah’s Witnesses and her husband.

After she left, members of the faith shunned her, some going to the A&P where she worked to stare at her, one threatening to report her to Children’s Aid, she said.

A mother of five, Etheridge works weekends at the Cherryhill Village Mall A&P and wakes weekdays at 3:30 a.m. to clean an Exeter Street firm.

She returns home before the first child arrives at 6:30 a.m. to her home day care.

Etheridge says she respects London Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco “because she’s a woman and she’s strong.”

DeCicco has been in politics for years, while Etheridge’s only political experience was a failed run in 2003 for the Thames Valley District school board. But while she’s a political novice, Etheridge is no stranger to the bread and butter of local campaigns.

“I did 17 years of door-to-door . . . I love talking to people. It’s about the only thing I miss from being a Jehovah’s Witness,” she said.

Etheridge is getting help from a veteran of local campaigns, Stephen Orser, who’s a candidate as well, in Ward 4.

The two had a child together but can’t marry until her divorce, which has been prolonged, is final.

Etheridge wants to ban pesticides, restore weekly garbage pickup, eliminate board of control and allow police to impound vehicles of men seeking prostitutes and to screen, for crimes, anyone who goes door-to-door.

Also running for mayor are DeCicco, who’s seeking a third term, and Arthur Majoor, a longtime military reservist who wants to shrink the scope of city government and reduce taxes.

Londoners vote Nov. 13.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The London Free Press, Canada
June 8, 2006
Jonathan Sher

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday June 10, 2006.
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