Utah: A History

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Anyone who knows Utah women should not be surprised at my determination in running for House District 73.

Although women have been underrepresented at all levels of government, we have still been present and important throughout our state’s history.

Utah women, along with Wyoming women, were the first females to win the right to vote.  

One fun fact about our history: In 1911, Kanab elected the country’s first all-women city council and mayor. According to a recent account in the Deseret News, the election was initially a joke, with some of the male voters writing in the women’s names when no one else appeared on the ballot. However, once the women were elected, they decided they could actually accomplish good things. Among those achievements in their two-year term were "ordinances to keep stray dogs and loose livestock from roaming freely in town, a ban on slingshots, provisions for the surveying and plotting of the city cemetery, and the overseeing of the construction of bridges for irrigation canals and a dike."

Mayor Chamberlain once wrote about their role in the community, “We have always been united in our labors, have laid aside our personal feelings and always worked for the public good. Don’t think for a moment that we haven’t any opposition to contend with. We feel sometimes that we have more than our share of it. Some members meet it every day in their own homes, but they are all women of character and have been able to hold their own.”

She added, "In fact, our supporters say that we have done more for the town than all the male Boards they have ever had. They urge us to run again at the coming election. … It is a noted fact that nine-tenths of the people never knew before who the members of the Town Board were, or that there even was a Board, but you can ask any child on the street who the present Board is, and they can tell you every one of our names."

Today, one-hundred seven years later, the importance of representative government is as relevant as it ever was.  I’m running for the Utah House of Representatives in District 73 because we need a fresh look at the issues affecting our communities across southern Utah. Without a choice of candidates, voters will be left with the same singular focus in the Utah House. Now is the time to shift toward the needs of our communities. I am grateful for those women who led the way in Kanab in 1911, demonstrating the wisdom and sensibility of women in response to a clear need for leadership in southern Utah.

Mayor Mary Woolley Chamberlain, Luella Atkin McAllister, Tamar Stewart Hamblin, Blanche Robinson Hamblin, and Ada Pratt Seegmiller. (Photo and identification from Utah Historical Society.)

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Marsha Holland