Sonoma County officials, constituents and anyone else who does business with Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins can expect to find her responding to emails and other queries at odd times in the coming months.
With a new baby arriving any day, the west county supervisor says she’ll be squeezing in reading, study and correspondence whenever she can, including the late night and early morning hours that most people spend asleep.
The job of county supervisor extends into most hours of the day and night, anyway, and often consumes her mind during wakeful night-time hours as it is, said Hopkins, 35. Now that she’ll be up in the night to feed her newborn, she expects she’ll be getting work done then, too.
“I’m actually looking forward to the midnight productivity,” Hopkins said, recalling the multitasking skills she discovered when her two daughters, now 6 and 3, were babies.
“I’m often actually up at night thinking about my job, thinking about policy, on my phone, reading agenda packets. ... I’ll make good use of those midnight hours.”
Hopkins, who just started her third year in elective office, is due to give birth Jan. 23, though her first two children were born on the early side, at about 38½ weeks, which could means she delivers this weekend.
Only seven women have served on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, beginning with the late Helen Rudee, who was elected in 1976.
Hopkins, the youngest, will be the first to give birth in office — a distinction with which she’s been struggling somewhat, given what it says about gender disparity in politics and government and, thus, public policy, including areas like parental leave, affordable child care and education.
“I would like for this to become normal — for this not to be newsworthy — because it’s just something that’s a social norm. It’s just expected,” she said. “In my opinion, we need more women in office so we can address the broader disparities in gender across the country.”
She also noted that, while it may seem “unusual to be in this visible of a position and to be very pregnant and still at work,” women around the country work until they go into labor.
“I’m just doing exactly what the majority of mothers that I know in the county are doing, which is juggling kids and doctors’ appointments and full-time-plus jobs and finding a way to make it all work.”
She and her husband, Emmett, community care manager for LandPaths, have chosen not to learn their third baby’s gender beforehand and are waiting to be surprised, as they did with their first two.
Assuming an uncomplicated birth, Hopkins plans to take three weeks off to bond her with the newborn, and then transition back into weekly board meetings and business as usual — though she acknowledges it will be a heaping full plate.
Hopkins’ in-laws live down the street and her own parents plan to come and stay for the first six weeks or so to help everyone get through the transition to a new baby in the house.
They also have plenty of other friends who help get the kids from place to place already, so there is a strong, supportive village in place for the busy supervisor.