Democrat Kathy Karpan traces her love of politics to her youth in working-class Rock Springs, Wyo. She served as Wyoming secretary of state from 1987 through 1994, when she ran unsuccessfully for governor. During the Clinton administration, she directed the Office of Mining and Reclamation Enforcement, and now practices law in Cheyenne.
women in wyoming politics
women in wyoming politics
Cheyenne schoolteacher Harriett Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd, Wyoming’s first black woman legislator, served in the Wyoming House and Senate from 1981-92. She concentrated on social justice issues, and nine times sponsored a bill to make Martin Luther King day a state holiday before it was finally adopted in 1990.
Civil engineer, librarian, athlete, professor and historian, Grace Hebard gained early power at the University of Wyoming, serving on its board of trustees and later its faculty over a 40-year career. Though many scholars now question her scholarship, she remains best known for her books on Wyoming’s past.
The popular Republican Thyra Thomson served as Wyoming’s secretary of state from 1963 to 1987, when she retired. While in office, Thomson witnessed the continuing presence of gender discrimination in the Equality State, and became a fierce advocate for equal rights. She died in Cheyenne June 11, 2013. She was 96.
Nellie Tayloe Ross, a Democrat, was elected governor of Wyoming a month after her governor husband, William Ross, died of appendicitis in the fall of 1924. She ran because of respect for her husband’s Progressive ideas and also as a result of her own ambition. She lost her bid for re-election in 1926, but went on to figure prominently in the leadership of the national Democratic Party. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to direct the U.S. Mint after he took office in 1933, a job she held for 20 years. She died in Washington in 1977, at the age of 101.
In 1870, Amalia Post of Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, became one of the first women to serve on a jury in the United States. Soon, she began advocating for women’s rights on a national level. She was an independent businesswoman from the time her first husband abandoned her in Denver in the early 1860s, through her marriage to her second husband, Cheyenne banker and politician Morton Post and up to the time of her death in 1897.
In the fall of 1869, lawmakers in Wyoming’s first territorial legislature passed a bill allowing women the right to vote. The governor signed the bill into law Dec. 10, 1869, making the territory the first government in the world to grant full voting rights to women. The lawmakers mixed partisan politics, racial fears and an eye for national publicity in with a desire among some, at least, to do the right thing.
Verda James, a schoolteacher, deputy director of public instruction for the state of Wyoming, assistant superintendent of the Natrona County schools, and later a faculty member at Casper College, was first elected to the Wyoming House in 1954. She served eight terms. During the last term, 1969-1970, she was elected House speaker, the first woman to serve in that position for a full term.