February 4, 2013 in Region

Female mayors a rarity for Seattle

Last one, in 1926, was first for big city
Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – Despite Seattle’s progressive self-image and its role in sending women to the U.S. Senate and governor’s office, the city has not elected a woman as mayor in 85 years.

A woman has not even appeared on the general-election ballot since 1926, when municipal reformer Bertha Landes became the first female mayor of a major American city, the Seattle Times reported.

The trend appears to be continuing.

So far, seven candidates have announced they’ll challenge Mayor Mike McGinn in the 2013 mayor contest, but only one is a woman: Seattle activist Kate Martin who has raised $133 from herself.

“I do think the time is right. I think the advantage would be real,” Lisa MacLean, a local political consultant who worked on former Mayor Greg Nickels’ three mayoral campaigns, told the Times.

Women have made major gains in political representation in recent decades, but the top U.S. political offices remain male dominated, especially big-city mayor’s offices, the newspaper reported.

Some major cities including New York and Los Angeles have never elected a woman as mayor. Only 12 of the 100 largest U.S. cities had female mayors as of last year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Women fare somewhat better in smaller cities, leading more than 17 percent of those with populations of more than 30,000. Tacoma and Kent currently have female mayors, and others, including Spokane, have had women as mayors in recent years.

The numbers in legislative bodies are a little higher: Women hold 18 percent of the seats in Congress and 24 percent in state legislatures.

Several women have been mentioned as potential candidates in Seattle’s mayoral contest, but so far none has been willing to take the leap. Some cite satisfaction with their current jobs or uncertainty about their prospects.

“You’ve got to be in the game to win, right? Not enough women have been willing to be in the game,” Jan Drago, a former Seattle City Council member, told the Times. She ran for mayor in 2009 but placed fifth in the primary.

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