Umatilla learned in 1916 what Rush is learning now
In 1916, the women of Umatilla, Oregon, had just gotten the vote. They were tired of a do-nothing town government, so they voted to take over.
And they did.
The male councilors were notoriously lax about paying bills and the street lights had been shut off, said Canda Rattray of Condon, a former Umatilla utility clerk who researched the overthrow. In addition, the sidewalks were unswept and filthy “and the women in their long skirts would have to walk through all this. The women decided since they had the vote to take over,” Rattray said.
The feisty, no-nonsense Laura Starcher outlined the women’s agenda soon after the election.
“There has been a great deal said about the so-called petticoat government and many wild speculations made as to how we would manage the city affairs, being mere women,” she said. “However, we will manage the affairs of this municipality and do it in a creditable manner without a shadow of a doubt. And if I did not believe that any woman on this council was not as competent and capable as any man who ever occupied a chair in this council, I would resign right now.”
Over the next four years, the women improved water and electrical services, approved a budget for street and sidewalk projects, organized cleanups, put up rail crossing signs, started a library, instituted garbage collections and appointed a city health official during the deadly 1918 influenza pandemic that swept the globe.