Bertha Knight Landes of Seattle, Big-city Mayor

Bertha Knight Landes of Seattle, Big-city Mayor

Book - 1994
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In 1926, Bertha Knight Landes made history as the first woman elected mayor of a major U.S. city. This biography of Mayor Landes of Seattle by Sandra Haarsager reveals an intelligent, pragmatic woman who used urban reform to order city priorities, making the business of government not just business but the welfare of its citizens. Landes and her husband were Seattle pioneers, moving there in 1895. Through participation in women's clubs she honed her leadership skills and began to advance the causes of both urban reform and feminism, although she called herself neither a reformer nor a feminist. Landes's first public office was a seat on the Seattle City Council. Her vision of the city as "a larger home" contrasted with the prevailing emphasis on businesslike efficiency but reflected an effective, results-oriented strategy. On the council, Landes promoted city planning and zoning, the licensing and regulation of dance halls and clubs, and improved public-health and safety programs. Relying on a campaign team of politically inexperienced women, Landes was elected mayor by the largest margin Seattle had seen in a mayoral vote. To her existing agenda for the city she added forward-looking environmental goals, police training, and social concerns such as hospitals and recreation programs. The press treated Landes as a novelty and found it necessary to reassure the community that she was no New Woman. Aware of her role as an example of what women could achieve in public office, Landes insisted on doing whatever was expected of a mayor, including opening baseball games and hiking to dam sites. In her bid for reelection she was defeated by a secretly financed, mean-spirited political unknownwho ran a negative campaign attacking Landes on the basis of gender and class. Drawing on the theories of Michel Foucault and Victor Turner, the conclusion explores issues of power, social change, and women in politics, connecting Landes's experiences to the much-touted 1992 Year of the Woman.
Publisher: Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, c1994
ISBN: 0806125926 (alk. paper)
Branch Call Number: B LANDES
Characteristics: 334 p

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