The first four councilwomen to serve the city of Tempe were honored for their work and involvement Tuesday afternoon.
Dorothy Cooper Nelson, Beverly Hermon, Patricia Hatton and Barbara Sherman were the first women ever to serve as council members for the city of Tempe.
The event was held for National Women’s History Month as a way for the city council to “positively and appropriately celebrate that,” current councilwoman Onnie Shekerjian said.
The four women reflected on the time they spent with the city of Tempe and discussed what they love about the city.
Hatton served on the council from 1976 to 1990 and worked on projects to redevelop downtown Tempe and to develop Kiwanis Park, as well as the placement of new elementary schools near neighborhood parks.
Hatton said her aspirations for the city have turned out to be great.
“They have become reality,” she said.
She discussed how when she was serving she didn’t want downtown Tempe to turn into an unwanted or forgotten place, and is happy with how much it has grown and what it is today.
Nelson was the first woman to serve on the Tempe City Council and served from 1966 to 1974. She was involved with planning the Tempe Public Library, the Tempe History Museum and Tempe City Hall.
Hermon served on the council from 1974 to 1980 and has served on many boards supporting people with disabilities, including The Arc of Tempe and Centers for Habilitation.
The four also talked about women in the Tempe City Council today and how they are happy with their involvement.
“We are so proud there are three women on the council,” Hermon said. Seven people serve on the council in total.
Shekerjian thanked the women for their involvement in the council and said it is important to honor them because they are trailblazers for the women there today.
“When we ran it wasn’t an issue that we were women because of these [four] women,” Shekerjian said.
Eleven women in all have served on the Tempe City Council out of the 87 council members who have served, she said.
Sherman said she thinks being honored is “very nice and thoughtful.”
Sherman served on the council from 1988 to 1992 and worked as a noise consultant for the city of Tempe. She continues to serve as the vice chair on the Tempe Aviation Commission.
She also taught ethics and government at ASU while serving on the council. She said there are many ethical questions in government and it was fascinating to study and teach at the same time.
“It was a wonderful learning experience,” she said.
As for her time on the council, Sherman said she learned a lot.
“I don’t regret I did it, it was a great experience,” Sherman said.
Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman showed his appreciation and gratitude toward all of the women who have previously served and are currently serving on the council.
“Today we’re honoring four women who have broken down barriers for the rest of us — men and women alike,” he said.
He continued to say that these women are being honored because in the past it wasn’t easy for women to be a part of government, and it’s critical that the city of Tempe and its citizens “recognize what we now take for granted.”
Shekerjian said it’s important that women are recognized for their work in the city of Tempe and in the city council.
She said because these women were “willing to stick their neck out,” the council is what it is today.
Diversity is important to the council, she said, and the women on Tempe’s City Council bring diverse views to the table.
“True diversity is about what your life experiences have been,” she said.
Shekerjian also commented on discrimination in government and society, and said that it happens everywhere, no matter what, but the government is able to stop discrimination when it comes to its policies.
“We can make sure that we don’t support discrimination,” she said. “It’s a sad fact, but there will always be discrimination, but that doesn’t mean government has to support it.”
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