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Jacob Wiegand, KSL

Utah's Martha vs. Philo debate marches on

By Art Raymond, KSL  |  Posted Feb 13th, 2018 @ 8:54am


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SALT LAKE CITY — In the ongoing saga of suffragette versus scientist, a House legislative committee on Monday voted in support of a resolution to replace a Washington, D.C. statue of Philo T. Farnsworth with one of Martha Hughes Cannon, but the end of the debate seems far from over.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, highlighted the extraordinary life of Cannon, a Mormon pioneer who became a doctor, women's rights advocate and the first woman elected to a state senate in the country, in presenting SCR1 to the House Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee Monday morning.

Former Rep. Adam Gardner, who said he'd originally conceived the notion of moving the Cannon statue from Utah to D.C. nine years ago, said he was pleased the effort was underway after leaving the Legislature to take a job as the new Salt Lake County recorder last summer.

"I was scared that when I left the (Utah) House of Representatives that this would kind of die on the vine. I didn’t think a lot of people were very passionate about this," Gardner said. "And then I had seven legislators reach out to me who said they wanted the bill when I left. That was really touching to me."

Passion was in evidence in the public testimony offered at the hearing, with supporters of both Farnsworth — who pioneered innovations that contributed to the development of television, radar, nuclear fusion and other advancements — and Cannon, who in spite of being part of a polygamist relationship is widely seen as being ahead of her time in numerous areas previously off-limits to women.

Farnsworth supporters would like to see his statue remain in place at the National Statuary Hall, while Cannon fans believe it is the right time for her statue to find a home there, particularly as the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment approaches in 2020.

After earning the committee's support on a 6-4 vote, SCR1 is headed to the House for that body's consideration.

Art Raymond, KSL
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