Wisdom from the First Female Mayor of an American City

Bertha K. Landes, Seattle mayor 1926-1928

In doing research for a new project, I came across this quote from Bertha K. Landes, who was elected mayor of Seattle in 1926, becoming the first female mayor of any major American city:

“I threaten to shoot on sight, without benefit of clergy, anyone calling me the mayoress instead of the mayor. Joking aside, I am fighting for a principle in taking that stand. Let women who go into politics be the real thing or nothing! Let us, while never forgetting our womanhood, drop all emphasis on sex and put it on being public servants.”

Although Landes cleaned up the city and had the support of important elements such as the Seattle Times, she was defeated in her reelection bid. The man who beat her, a political neophyte named Frank E. Edwards, did all he could to make the election about whether the city wanted to be led by a woman or a man. Sadly, his cynical approach worked, even among women.

I’m happy to say Seattle has a strong female mayor again (the first since Bertha)–and I hope that after November, we’ll have many more female public servants across this country. God knows we’ve had enough men who don’t know the meaning of “public” or “servant.”

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