When Margaret Hance was elected mayor of Phoenix in November 1975, she was not, as is often claimed, the first woman to lead a major city. That marker goes to Bertha Knight Landes, elected mayor of Seattle in 1926. Hance was second.
Hance's tenure was far more consequential, as we shall see. Still, the pair are twined in dissonances.
Landes, who ran advocating "municipal housecleaning," has been "honored" by Seattle naming its misbegotten tunnel boring machine after her. Hance is memorialized by a park in the heart of the city, a place she did little to help and much to harm.
Margaret Taylor Hance was almost a native, being brought from Iowa to Mesa at age three, in 1926. Her father went to work for Valley Bank, where became an executive vice president. Despite the onset of the Depression, the family moved to what is now Willo. (I am told they lived in the same house on Cypress Street in the 1930s where I grew up in the 1960s. In the '30s, unlike the '60s, it was a high-end neighborhood on the streetcar.)
Although she attended the University of Arizona, she transferred to the elite Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., from whence she graduated. In 1945, she married Robert Hance, who had trained as an Army Air Forces pilot in the Valley during World War II. Her brother, Glen Taylor, went on to become news editor at the Phoenix Gazette, retiring as assistant managing editor in 1983.
She settled into the comfortable and predictable life of an upper-middle-class Republican Phoenix woman. Robert went to work for Valley National Insurance and rose. The couple had three children. Margaret — known as Marge or Margie — volunteered for numerous organizations and joined the Junior League.