Women's history celebration to honor 20th-century officials

Committee identifies 61 who held political offices

March 14, 2001|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

Marjorie S. Holt became the first Maryland woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. Elsie D. Barber became the first Anne Arundel County woman elected to the General Assembly in 1923. Cynthia A. Carter became the first African-American woman elected to the Annapolis city council in 1997.

"Women have broken a lot of ground here in the county," said Bea Poulin, community services specialist for the county executive's Office of Constituent and Community Services.

During tonight's Women's History Month celebration, the county will honor those women and the 58 other county women who were elected or appointed to public office during the 20th century. The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., in Annapolis. The event, free and open to the public, will be the third annual county celebration of Women's History Month. Poulin said this year's theme was developed when the event planners and County Executive Janet S. Owens started putting together the celebration and wondered how many county women have been elected or appointed to public office.

"There's a big lack of information here," Poulin said. "We called the Maryland Archives, and they really didn't have a record of that."

So, a committee was formed to research the question, and it discovered 61 women.

"We said, `Oh my goodness.' We had no idea there were so many women," Poulin said. "It's a pretty impressive list."

That list includes Highland Beach mayors, Annapolis city council members, state delegates, County Council members and women who served in judicial positions.

Del. Mary Ann Love, the first woman to be elected from District 32, said the recognition of the women is an honor and that it's gratifying to be noticed for the positive impact they've made.

"The women have made great strides in the county," she said. "And I think we're working hard and making things work."

About 30 of the women will be present at tonight's event, where Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will be the keynote speaker. All the women will be honored in a hall of fame exhibit that will be on display in the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts' AIR Gallery.

"Elected officials are role models for a lot of people," Poulin said. "And Women's History Month is an opportunity to educate and inspire young women."

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