Columbus history: The trailblazing women of Columbus City Council

·2 min read
Golda May Edmonston, who earlier had been a suffragette, was the only woman at the table in 1961 during a bus strike. City council members and the mayor were meeting with Columbus Transit Co. representatives and union negotiators to try to settle the strike on this day, but the 40-minute session failed.
Golda May Edmonston, who earlier had been a suffragette, was the only woman at the table in 1961 during a bus strike. City council members and the mayor were meeting with Columbus Transit Co. representatives and union negotiators to try to settle the strike on this day, but the 40-minute session failed.

Priscilla Tyson recently retired from Columbus City Council as its longest-serving female member in history, with a record of almost 15 consecutive years.

Her political career began when she was over 50 and appointed to the council with no experience in city government, after which she won four subsequent elections.

Tyson succeeds other female trailblazers of both political parties who have served on city council since a nine-member “borough council” was formed more than 200 years ago, in 1816.

The first woman to serve was Olga Anna Jones, an independent. She was a teacher, editor of the Ohio Women Voter, and a newspaper columnist for The Columbus Citizen when she was appointed in 1922. She was later elected and served until 1927.

Golda May Edmonston, a former five-term state representative, served on the council for eight years in the 1960s. When she was 74, she became the council's first female president. An outspoken advocate of women in the workplace and for voting rights, Edmonston championed equal pay for equal work and was also devoted to promoting absentee ballots for shut-ins.

Fran Ryan's election in 1971 made her the third woman to serve. She was followed by Pamela Conrad (1977-80), Dorothy Teater (1980-85), and several other women in later years.

Since Edmonston, there has been only one other female council president: Cynthia Lazarus. A council member from 1985 to 1994, she was its leader for four years, leaving to become an appellate judge.

In 1990, Les Wright became the first Black city councilwoman, and in 2005, Mary Jo Hudson became the first openly gay council member.

Les Wright, former Columbus City Council member
Les Wright, former Columbus City Council member
Mary Jo Hudson was a member of the Columbus City Council and chaired the Jobs and Economic Development Committee. She is an attorney.
Mary Jo Hudson was a member of the Columbus City Council and chaired the Jobs and Economic Development Committee. She is an attorney.

Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, the first Latina elected to the council, was sworn in last month. Three of the seven current council members are women.

Lourdes Barroso de Padilla is the first Latina elected to Columbus City Council.
Lourdes Barroso de Padilla is the first Latina elected to Columbus City Council.

Contributor Linda Deitch was a Dispatch librarian for 25 years.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus City Council history: Celebrating women trailblazers

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