Women on the West St. Paul City Council

Thanks to Amore Coffee for their support.

Since West St. Paul’s founding in 1889, only seven women have served on City Council. In that same time frame, 158 men have served.

Pie chart showing West St. Paul City Council members, 95.8% men and 4.2% women.

Here are those seven women:

  • Devona Weatherhead, 1967-1968 (ward 1)
  • Sandra Shirley, 1991-1994 (ward 1)
  • Vivian Hart, 1999-2002 (ward 1)
  • Darlene Lewis, 2005-2012 (ward 3)
  • Jenny Halverson, 2013-2016 (ward 2)
  • Wendy Berry, 2019- (ward 3)
  • Lisa Eng-Sarne, 2019 – (ward 3)

Women Running for Office

Last week we looked at some West St. Paul election stats for National Run for Office Day, and in 30 years nearly 36% of the races have been uncontested. The filing period for running in 2020 isn’t until May, but now’s a good time to start thinking about running for office.

In those last 30 years worth of elections (1988-2018), only nine women have even run for office in West St. Paul. During the same time frame, 67 men have run for office.

Pie chart showing people running for office in West St. Paul by gender (1988-2018), 88.2% men, 11.8% women.

While that’s a discouraging ratio, it also points to a high success rate: 67% of women who have run in the last 30 years have won.

According to the nonpartisan organization She Should Run, woman often need to be asked more than once to run for office before they seriously consider it. That was the case with West St. Paul’s first ever female City Council member:

“I actually became interested in better streets for West St. Paul and in other city projects. At this time I was on the Planning Commission and happened to stop in the store one day for a loaf of bread. Several people stopped me to ask if I had filed to run for Council. I had not and it was the last day, but before going home, I went to City Hall and put in my application.”

Devona Weatherhead, West St. Paul Centennial: 1889-1989

Other Female Facts:

  • 2019 was the first year when more than one woman served on the City Council at a time.
  • Jenny Halverson is the only woman to ever represent ward 2, and the only woman to run in ward 2 (at least in the last 30 years).
  • Darlene Lewis is the only woman to ever serve more than one term.
  • Lisa Eng-Sarne is the only woman to be appointed to a City Council seat.
  • Jenny Halverson is the only woman to serve as mayor of West St. Paul.

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3 comments

  1. This price seems rather steep for a t-shirt.
    Where are the proceeds going? It is it split between the women list? Going toward a She Should Run? Or another woman group?

    1. The price for the shirts is set by Zazzle—frankly they seem pretty reasonable for print-on-demand shirts. The v-neck is $27, so maybe that one’s a little pricey, but the others are in line. Plus they seem to be pitching a 20% off deal right now.

      The proceeds aren’t much. We’re talking about a couple bucks per shirt, and it helps fund West St. Paul Reader. This site is still getting off the ground and trying to be sustainable.

      If you’d like to help support West St. Paul Reader, you can become a patron.

      Perhaps in the future we’ll consider a fundraiser for other causes, but right now we’re doing one for Neighbors, Inc. You can donate to support that effort here.

      1. Given negative feedback on the shirts, I’ve removed them entirely from the store. Thanks for your input.

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