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Women Rule
Betty Wheeler | Seaview Avenue

Campaign brochure 1994.
 
 

Women Mayors

Janice Heinzemann (1972-74)
Nancy Hoover (1976-77)
Rosalind Lorwin (1983-84)
Arlene Carsten (1985-86)
Ronnie Delaney (1987-88)
Brooke Eisenberg (1989-90)
Jan McMillan (1990-91; 1994-95)
Jacqueline Winterer (1991-92)
Crystal Crawford (2000-01; 2005-06; 2008-09)
Lee Haydu (2013-14)
Sherryl Parks (2015-16)

 
A memorable call to action of second-wave feminism, circa 1970s: “A woman’s place is in the House . . . and in the Senate.” In celebration of this year’s 60th Anniversary of the City’s incorporation, I took a look at how Del Mar has fared with respect to women in local government leadership. Del Mar, it turns out, has a rich history of women in leadership roles in our City’s governance.
A May 26, 1959 ballot measure – won by a slim margin (555-t0-479 per Nancy Ewing’s book) – brought us Cityhood, and a path to controlling our own destiny. If 38 people had voted “no” instead of “yes,” Del Mar’s governing body would be the County Board of Supervisors. That’s a sobering reminder, along with other close votes (e.g., acquisition of the Powerhouse property for public park/open space) that many decisions we now take for granted were hard fought and narrowly won.

Though the first City Council was all male, that changed rapidly. In the April 1962 election, Betty Bossert, who had been active in the drive for City incorporation, and had been appointed to fill a July 1961 vacancy, won election in a contested race. In historical context, her election took place two years before passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and one year before the Equal Pay Act.
In 1972-74, Janice Heinzemann served as our first female mayor, after her 1966 and 1970 elections to Council. Key issues she identified in a 1972 interview resonate today: growth, developing rationally as a city, preserving the village atmosphere, and open space.

From 1959-present, 41 people have served as Mayor; 11 have been women (27%). Two notable 10-year periods: from 1985-1995, women served as mayor for 6 of those 10 years (Jan McMillan twice), so women served 60% of those mayoral terms, and comprised 50% of the mayors. In 1988 – 31 years ago – the Council included four women: Brooke Eisenberg, Jan McMillan, Jacqueline Winterer, and Gay Hugo. And from 2012-2022, assuming mayors for 2020-22 are selected per current policy, women will serve 40% of these 10 mayoral terms: Lee Haydu, Sherryl Parks, Ellie Haviland, and Terry Gaasterland.

This history is well worth remembering (or learning about) and celebrating as we mark our 60th anniversary, and as we continue to work for equality.

 


 

 

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