Welcome, Madam Speaker


Today, as the 59th legislature opened for business, Utah’s new Speaker of the House was officially nominated, accepted and sworn-in and took her place on the dais. Amid cheers and applause, Speaker Rebecca Lockhart then addressed her colleagues. She started with the story of Mattie Hughes.

Like many University of Utah students, Mattie Hughes was a firebrand. She was outspoken and passionate. She was independent — washing dishes, doing laundry and secretarial jobs to work her own way through school.She majored in Chemistry, and at age 25 launched her career as a doctor.

Today, she’d blend in among the U’s 30,000 students. Except that “Mattie” Hughes went to school in the 1880s and the school was known then as the University of Deseret.

Hughes would go on to establish a training school for nurses, become a resident physician and marry Angus Munn Cannon. We now know her as Martha Hughes Cannon. She was drawn to politics, and felt so strongly about the issues of her day that she ran for office against her own husband in 1896. She defeated him and became the first woman in our nation to be elected to a State senate.

Martha Cannon was a trailblazer in the 1800’s. Becky Lockhart is a trailblazer in her time. She is making Utah history as the first woman Speaker – and guess what. It’s not because of her gender that she got elected. She has proven her ability to lead. She encouraged her colleagues to be leaders as well, She urged lawmakers to remember how they got to the Hill. “You were chosen to lead by farmers and mechanics, attorneys and doctors, software programmers, teachers, and homemakers,” she said. “These constituents have the right to our time and attention,” she continued. “They have a right to an explanation for why we vote the way we do. They have a right to know how the laws we pass will affect them and their children, and future generations.”


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6 Responses to “Welcome, Madam Speaker”

  1. Sylvia Andersen Says:

    She is wonderful, I am so proud to know her. She has my respect and support.

  2. Tweets that mention Welcome, Madam Speaker « Holly On The Hill -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Holly Richardson and Keith Kuder, utahpolitics. utahpolitics said: RT @HollyontheHill: Welcome, Madam Speaker! http://bit.ly/dEOFK2 #utpol […]

  3. Senate Journal: 1/24/11, First day of the session | New Senate Site Says:

    […] 3. Holly on the Hill writes a fitting tribute to the new Speaker: Welcome, Madam Speaker […]

  4. nacilbupera Says:

    I welcome Madame Lockhart and hope we’ll have no “Applausegate” under her leadership.

  5. Lisa Shepherd Says:

    Looks like it was a great speech. I especially like the last sentences of your story.

  6. Morning Buzz : Vox Populi Says:

    […] remarks, Speaker Lockhart shared some fun facts about Utah’s first female State Senate, Martha Hughes Cannon who defeated her husband in the race for the seat, becoming the first women elected to the State […]

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