Mary A. Bennett 1916-1999 | New NY 23rd

Mary A. Bennett became the first female mayor of Jackson in 1966. (File photo |

I studied city government in the third grade thanks to the League of Women Voters. Actually, it may have been a fourth grade lesson; my classroom was a third/fourth split. Why bother with third grade work when the fourth is learning something more interesting.

Jackson, MI had a council-manager city government–a form of city government favored by 20th Century good government reformers. The League of Women Voters had written a pamphlet on Jackson city government which is what we studied. I remember the pamphlet so it must have been handed out to both third and fourth graders.

Mrs. Bennett’s son was in my HS class; his brother and my brother were friends. She went to our church, but I scarcely knew that. I had little interest in church ladies; I was appalled when I learned that my attractive seventh grade Latin teacher was a church member, and my mother knew her.

Here is Mrs. Bennett’s bio from the work cited below:

Bennett had served as YMCA board president; chairwoman of the mayor’s subcommittee for housing for minorities, the elderly and low-income families; vice chairwoman of the citizens committee for several Union School District (now Jackson Public Schools) bond and millage issues; president of Jackson’s League of Women Voters; Girl Scout troop leader and Boy Scout den mother; First Congregational Church Sunday school teacher; and secretary of the mayor’s committee on city finances.

Her activities evidently were quite progressive for twentieth century Midwestern America.

I don’t know if Mrs. Bennett favored a political party; city officials may have been elected on a non-partisan ballot. I don’t know if she contributed to the LWV pamphlet; certainly it was written by women like her. I like to imagine that she did.

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