A day to honor suffrage leader, first female state senator Martha Hughes Cannon

A day to honor suffrage leader, first female state senator Martha Hughes Cannon

(Better Days 2020)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. John Curtis introduced a resolution in Congress on Friday declaring Jan. 11, 2020, as a day to honor his wife’s great-grandmother.

The Utah congressman is married to the great-granddaughter of Martha Hughes Cannon, who 123 years ago Saturday was sworn into the Utah Senate, the first woman in the nation to hold that office.

“My wife is quick to remind me that she won that office by defeating her husband,” Curtis said on the House floor.

The resolution, co-sponsored by Utah’s other three congressmen, designates Jan. 11 as Martha Hughes Cannon Day.

“Because of the initiative of Martha Hughes Cannon, thousands of women have followed in her footsteps and served state legislatures and as local and national leaders,” Curtis said.

State lawmakers voted in 2017 to replace a statue of TV inventor Philo T. Farnsworth with one of Cannon in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, where two historically significant figures represent each state. Utah’s other statue in the hall is that of Brigham Young.

Cannon also was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. Her statue is scheduled to be unveiled in August on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

Curtis also announced the creation of a women’s advisory council, with whom he will meet throughout the year to talk about issues that impact Utah women.

“With a congressional district that is over 50% female, it is imperative that the female perspective is heard and given a real influence on my decisions,” he said. “Women bring unique and valuable perspectives to policy decisions which play a crucial part in good governance.”

Members of the advisory council are Utah Senate Majority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City; former Democratic state Sen. Pat Jones; Nichelle Jensen, creative director of The Alison Show; Geri Gamber, executive director of the Southeast Utah Association of Local Government; Sara Jones, co-founder of the Women’s Tech Council; and Karen McCandless, executive director of Utah County Community Action Services.

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Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.


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