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One Woman, One Vote x 26 Equals the First Woman Mayor, All Woman City Council in 1916 Umatilla, Oregon


Laugh and cheer in this excellent article about the Oregon women who took over, and cleaned up, the city of Umatilla, Oregon, in 1916:

“The Petticoat Rebellion of 1916,” by Jennifer Colton-Jones.

Excerpts: “…. By the time the polls closed that evening, the women of Umatilla had pulled off a strange sort of conspiracy unlike anything the country had ever seen….

At the time, Umatilla did not require prospective officials to publicly declare their candidacy, and all ballots were counted with write-in votes. Given the men’s record in handling town issues, the women decided their best chances were to take care of the campaign—and the election—themselves….

… Mayor (Laura) Starcher took the oath of office on 9 January 1917. She ran her first meeting with a full council in attendance—a rarity for the city—and filled the city’s committees with women. During that first meeting, the “mayoress” announced she would not appoint a city marshal because “the salary for that official was an unnecessary expense.” That move alone saved the city $57 a month (the equivalent of $1,220 a month in 2015). She also promised that her council members would attend meetings—even if she had to serve tea….

Over the next four years, a woman’s touch would land in every corner of town. The Petticoat Government repaired sidewalks, graded streets, and initiated monthly garbage service. They put a fresh face on the town by cleaning City Hall, planting trees on city properties, and overseeing the construction of a new campground. The women raised city standards by creating a library board, installing railroad crossing signs, and bringing in a health inspector during the 1918 smallpox epidemic. The Petticoat Government even convinced the state highway committee to route the Columbia River Highway through Umatilla….” [Link to full article.]

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