On ‘Gender Pioneers’ in Tennessee Local Governments

With Madeline Rogero to be sworn in as the first woman ever elected mayor of Knoxville, Jim Balloch has taken a look back at women who were “gender pioneers in local government politics – putting an emphasis on Knoxville. (Knoxville becomes the state’s largest city to ever have had a female mayor when Rogero takes the oath of office on Saturday.)
The Tennessee Government Officials Directory, and some additional research by the News Sentinel, indicates there are about 35 women serving as mayors among the state’s 435 incorporated municipalities. Nearly all of those female mayors are in towns of 35,000 or less, and in many of those towns, the mayor is chosen by the council or board of aldermen instead of by scheduled popular election.
“In Tennessee today, we don’t see that balanced representation in most of our elected offices,” said Jamey Dobbs, president of the League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County. “We hope that the election of a female mayor in Knoxville will inspire more of us to actively participate in government, from many different backgrounds, and that we’ll see more women setting their sights on running for public office.”

And here’s one of several historical tidbits from the article:
…..Hattie Belle Love…was the first woman ever elected to Knoxville City Council. “Miss Hattie,” as she was popularly known, was a successful businesswoman, active in church work and women’s clubs of her day, and was the chief clerk of City Court for a number of years.
In her one term of office (1938-39), she set an example that many citizens doubtlessly wish other politicians would follow. Widely regarded as levelheaded and conscientious, she made “few speeches, (but) the few she has made were pointed and direct,” according to a newspaper account.
In 1939, she fell just 46 votes short of re-election — but finished well ahead of candidate Cas Walker, who would later become a mayor and powerful political force.

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