Historically, Meghan’s Victory Last Week Is a BlockbusterBy Ari L. Noonan @ 4:00 PM April 19, 2012
Time to hire a marching band.
Cue up a spirited John Philip Sousa patriotic march.
This will not be to honor the 80th anniversary of Mr. Sousa’s timely death but to properly ring in the rare elevation of a woman to the City Council.
Meghan Sahli-Wells finished a lofty second in last week’s election to gain a four-year term in her second try to reach the dais.
Although slightly stifled yawns greeted her landmark victory in some quarters, this should be a champagne corker.
The news is banner-worthy.
The celebrated keeper of the records, City Historian Julie Lugo Cerra, deserves to be credited with uncovering the most intriguing secrets in the community’s almost century of life, and she has delivered this time, too.
All that follows has been relayed from Ms. Lugo Cerra’s voluminous files.
Culver City, which turns 95 years old in September, elects a woman to the Council about as often as FDR traveled to the moon.
• Two women in its first 59 years.
• Four women, though, in the last 26 years,
• To say it differently, since 1986, women continuously have served on the Council except for 1994 to ’96, and from 2008 to a week ago last Tuesday.
Ms. Sahli-Wells is the first woman to break the boys’monopoly since Carol Gross was term-limited at the end of her second four years in ’08.
Here is part of the reason that no female fuss was raised during the Gross years:
Ms. Gross, who recently revealed she will be relocating in Buellton, north of Santa Barbara, genuinely was one of the boys throughout her eight years on the dais.
Few thought of Ms. Gross – careful how you say this – as a traditional woman, that is, a dainty, delicate doll in pinafores who flipped her eyelashes and favored fluff.
She was one of the boys, not by fiat, not because hard-faced, victim-shlepping feminists marched and demanded a hokey form of perceived liberation.
Because it was her nature.
An equal among equals, Ms. Gross always played and fought on level ground with the boys.
Never chirped about inequality. She reported to work with her level-eyed peers, dueled when necessary, compromised when prudent, and never asked the boys for quarter because she was emerging from a bitter victim world.
That never was her mentality.
And so this is the toughest, most direct legacy, the mantle Ms. Sahli-Wells will inherit when she, Andy Weissman, Jim Clarke and Mayor Mehaul O’Leary are installed at 7 o’clock Monday evening in Council Chambers.
Ms. Lugo Cerra’s files show that one Bella Wygant Day, for reasons inexplicable, succeeded her (late?) husband, V.R., in 1921, the year after women’s historic suffrage triumph.
Mr. Day was elected to the Council in 1917, the year Culver City was born, and vanished in the final year of his term.
Filling out her possibly expired spouse’s unexpired term, she only served a few weeks or months.
No woman would bust the men’s iron grip for 35 years, until Mary Lou Richardson was voted to a single term in 1956.
Then the walls came down.
A scant 30 years after Ms. Richardson became the first woman ever elected in Culver City to the Council, Jozelle Smith broke through, winning two terms, in 1986 and 1990.
She left office in 1994, and this time the gender drought was the briefest, two years. Sandi Levin was elected in 1996. The day she stepped down, Ms. Gross stepped in.
Seventy-five men and five women have been elected plus Ms. Day’s promotion.