A Woman to Know: Bertha Knight Landes

Men in general are not ready to yield to women the privilege and right of holding high political office. — Bertha Knight Landes

(image via Seattle Municipal Archives)

When Bertha ran for mayor of Seattle in 1925, she knew she couldn't dodge the "woman" question. "Who's going to take care of your husband?" "Who's cleaning your house while you're campaigning?" etc etc, sexism abounding. So, Bertha being Bertha, she faced the controversy head-on. Throughout her campaign, she talked openly about how her experiences as a homemaker made her the perfect candidate to "clean up" the Washington metropolis. As her husband said in one speech, "It's simply the natural enlargement of her sphere. Keeping a house and raising a family are logistical tasks, and there is no difference between running one home and running one thousand." Bertha even used this in her campaign slogan: "Municipal Housekeeping."

And her strategy worked. Bertha beat the incumbent mayor by more than 6,000 votes. And in doing so, Seattle didn't just elect its first female mayor — Bertha was the first woman to be mayor of any U.S. city.

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