Wednesday, May 07, 2008

They told me to drop out

Way back in 1974, I ran for a seat on the Santa Rosa (CA) City Council. Two women ran for office that year. Iva Warner was the other woman. Her committee members called me and told me to drop out of the race because I would “split the women’s vote.” Iva and I were the first women to run for the council.

Here is my campaign photo by Marlene Nordstrom.
I didn’t drop out of the six person race – three incumbents, one big businessman (who accused me of being “a member of The Women’s Liberation”), a lawyer, Iva, and me.

The three incumbents won. I did not come in last!

I’m glad I ran because it opened the way for other women to run for a council seat and win. Donna Born won a few years later and she was even elected mayor. My friend Nanci Burton ran in 1984 and was elected. She was elected mayor in 1986 and was re-elected again in 1991.

Here is a photo of Nanci pondering some weighty council business in 1990.
In a 1992 Press Democrat interview she recalled that she had entered public life in an era when female candidates often got questions like: “Sweetheart, do you really understand how a business operates?” She replied by saying that she kept the books for her husband’s catering business and “…if I didn’t take care of the payroll…and taxes my husband would have been in jail because he is not going to do it.”

My dear friend Nanci died on April 15.

We shared many other interests besides politics. We first met when our children were in grammar school and we tried to tackle the Superintendent of Schools about curriculum. We took Lydia Van Gelder’s spinning and natural dyeing classes at Santa Rosa Junior College. When I left Santa Rosa in 1979, Nanci took over my job as director of Junior Achievement.

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Blogger Gerrie said...

This is a wonderful story. I wish you had been living in SR when I lived there. We would have had such a good time.

You didn't drop out, but I bet you ran a very clean and honest campaing!!

2:58 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

My condolences on your friend's passing.

9:37 PM  

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