To the Polls! The Municipal News and Historic Seattle Elections

Municipal News Masthead, 1943

~posted by Jade

Just in time for election season, we’ve launched our Municipal News Digital Collection featuring nearly 100 years of issues from 1911 to 2010. Produced by the Municipal League of Seattle, the news provides insight on hot button civic issues of the day such as prohibition, dance halls, desegregation, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the “Mercer Mess.”

I voted, did you, Municipal News, March 8, 1952
I Voted…Did You? Municipal News, March 8, 1952

During every election, the News produced a special election issue, evaluating Seattle candidates and their record of service. To mark the upcoming August primary, we’ve hunted for the reviews for notable politicians and included them below.

Hiram Gill, who had already served as mayor and been recalled from office in 1911, earned what is perhaps one of the most scathing reviews. The February 17, 1912 entry in the News read “We regard the candidacy of Mr. Gill as fraught with the gravest danger to the city […] It would be most wholesome for the city if Mr. Gill could be entirely eliminated from the finals.” Gill lost the election but ran again in 1914 and won.

The April 8, 1922 review of Bertha Landes, who was running for a City Council position at the time, notes she is “taken a prominent part in the women’s activities of the city” and  “Those desiring women on the city council can do no better than to vote for Mrs. Landes.” Landes would go on to become Seattle’s first (and only) female mayor.

On February 20, 1932, mayoral candidate Victor Meyers received the following indignant review: “He has provided the comedy for the mayoralty campaign, offering humorous and grotesque statements of his plans after election to office. […] He has treated his campaign as a joke and there is no reason to consider it otherwise.” Among Meyer’s campaign tricks: dressing up in a sheet and parading a goat through downtown and hiring an actor to appear for him and scandalize “a stuffy women’s club, whose members weren’t going to vote for me anyway.” Meyers went on to be both Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State.

Myrtle Edwards Campaign Billboard, 1960, Werner Lenggenhager Photograph Collection
Myrtle Edwards Campaign Billboard, 1960, Werner Lenggenhager Photograph Collection

In her 1956 review, Myrtle Edwards (for whom the waterfront park is named) is deemed an effective candidate for city council with “good knowledge and understanding of city problems.” The January 22, 1962 rating of Wing Luke, also running for city council, declares that he is an “Above average candidate—shows promise of becoming a competent official. Well informed.” (Luke served on the council for three years before his untimely death in a plane crash in 1965.) On September 19, 1989, soon to be Seattle Mayor Norm Rice was given a rating of “Very Good,” one notch down from a rating of “Outstanding” which he received while running for a Freeholder position in 1974.

Interested to see more of the News? You can search the full collection here or take a look at our Neighborhood History Project where you can search articles by neighborhood (along with other items from our digital collections.)

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