As local municipalities have been busy swearing in leaders following the May 6 elections, one of the big takeaways has been historical firsts for women.
Races across the county this election cycle featured 19 women, with eleven winning office.
In Dayton, they bid farewell to the city’s first woman mayor, Caroline Wadzeck, who served two terms in that role. She was honored alongside outgoing councilmen Andy Conner and Alvin Burress and the late Dwight Pruitt, represented by his wife, Liz.
Wadzeck made a few parting remarks thanking everyone at the city and on the council for all of the work they had done over the years.
“This has been one of my biggest honors serving on the council as mayor,” she said.
Wadzeck went on to wish the new council the best of luck and offered her prayers and support that they do great things Council also made some history, as four women will now be seated at the dais, a first in Dayton.
Janette Frick was the only female council member leading up to Monday night’s meeting when she was joined by Sherial Lawson, Tonya Smikal and Valorie Barton, who all took office.
“ We’re all bringing what we know to the table and I think there are some great candidates that have gotten elected here and I am glad to see it. It’s sort of nice not to be the only woman for a change and I am looking forward to it,” said Frick.
Lawson is no newcomer to council, having served several terms previously, and will be called upon for her experience.
“ My words of wisdom will be, let’s gather all the information, make decisions based on fact and not emotion and work together for the betterment of the citizens,” said Lawson.
Smikal, while a newcomer to council, brings a wealth of experience from her time with the Dayton Economy Development Corporation, Dayton Chamber and other work with non- profits and is eager to work with her counterparts on council as well as city staff.
“ Four women are now part of Dayton’s City Council, and I am proud to be among them. This reflects societal progress, where qualified individuals can be elected regardless of their gender, race, or religion,” said Smikal.
Barton rounds out the newly elected council and she brings experience in the government sector working at the federal level. She, too, is excited about the prospect of such a historical moment for Dayton.
“I think it’s showing progress in that women are now taking their place. Being part of history, I think it is simply amazing to be part of this council serving predominately with a female council,” said Barton.
Dayton also made history this year with the first-ever female City Manager in Kimberly Judge and the most significant number of female officers ever at the Dayton Police Department, representing 30% of staff.
Judge is excited about the opportunity to work with many talented women who care about their community and are willing to serve.
“Girl Power! It is an exciting time for Dayton to have so many women right now that are running the community. I think they are going to pay a lot of attention to detail and accomplish a lot of tasks,” said Judge.
As for the menfolk, well, newly elected mayor Martin Mudd was sworn in as well, and his first official act was naming a mayor pro-tem, which went to the senior member, John Headrick.
In the City of Ames, voters elected that communities first female mayor after Barbara Domain unseated Cornelius Gilmore.
Two other ladies still have an opportunity to take office in the coming weeks, as Cleveland’s Durlene Davis and Plum Grove city councilwoman Deborah Ann Bell will be in runoffs next month.