Though Wichita’s low-turnout election last week barely qualified as news, Topeka voters made history by electing four women to the City Council. That means women now hold five of nine seats – their first majority in the council’s 28-year history. “I think a real theme of Topeka is freedom and offering an opportunity to anybody who is willing to step up,” re-elected council member Karen Hiller told the Topeka Capital-Journal. The election brought to mind both the historic election of an all-female Syracuse city council in 1887, just after Kansas amended the constitution to allow women to vote and hold municipal offices, and the city-county fight in Topeka in 2011 over paying for prosecution of domestic violence cases, which drew national headlines such as “Enjoy Hitting Your Spouse? Move to Topeka.” In contrast, Wichita has two women on its seven-member City Council; it reached a peak of three a few years ago.
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