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The City Journals

West Valley City leaders recognize the League of Women Voters to start centennial year

Feb 10, 2020 03:21PM ● By Travis Barton

A statue of Martha Hughes Cannon, the first woman elected to the Utah State Senate. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

It’s been 100 years since congress passed the 19th amendment and 150 years since women first voted in the Utah territory.

The League of Women Voters organization was created in 1920, the same year as the ratification of the 19th amendment. West Valley City honored that organization on Jan. 14. 

“We, the Mayor and City Council of West Valley City, Utah, do hereby recognize the vital contributions of the League of Women Voters to the welfare of all Utahns and applaud the League’s commitment to continue this work for the next 100 years,” read Mayor Ron Bigelow from a city proclamation.

Vicki Samuelson, co-president of the Utah chapter of the League of Women Voters, approached the city in December asking them to recognize the organization. 

“The League of Women Voters was a big part of the suffrage movement,” she told the City Council in December.  

Utah was one of the leaders in the suffrage movement. Utah schoolteacher Seraph Young was the first woman to vote in an election in the United States. 

Last fall, a celebration and commemoration of the 19th amendment anniversary (the Utah legislature voted to ratify the amendment on Sept. 30, 1919), was held at the Utah State Capitol. Martha Hughes Cannon was the first woman elected to the Utah State Senate and any state senate in the country. Utah will send a statue of Cannon to Washington, D.C. to recognize the national anniversary. 

“We are reminded that Utah women have been leading out on issues like suffrage and equal rights since the earliest days of our state,” said Rep. Karen Kwan (D-Taylorsville) in a press release at the time. “These women leaders showed tremendous courage and foresight in challenging the social norms of their time. They inspire us to continue reaching for yet more opportunities and accomplishments for Utah women in our own time.”

The League of Women Voters was originally created to help women participate in civic affairs. Today it functions as a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government, according to its website.

“We do appreciate those who promote civility, involvement in our city affairs so thank you,” Bigelow said before addressing Samuelson, “and please convey to your organization how much we appreciate what you do and the fine standard you have set for all of us to be involved.”