Senate Report

Recently a resolution was introduced in the South Carolina Senate recognizing March as Women’s History Month. In honor of Women’s History Month I want to share with you some women that have been trailblazers within the political field. When I was sworn in in 2016 I was part of a historic day in the Senate. It was the first time in the history of the Senate that we had four women serving, the most ever serving at one time. I have been honored to work beside these ladies.
In 1929 Mary Gordon Ellis was the first woman elected to the South Carolina Senate. While a superintendent of education in Jasper County superintendent she provided new books to students at segregated black schools instead of hand-me-down books from white schools. In 1928 state Rep H.K. Purdy had Elis fired. However, once Representative Purdy filed to run for the South Carolina Senate, Ellis did as well. She won the election and her portrait now hangs in the Senate chamber.
In 1945 Harriet Katherine Frazier Johnson became the first woman elected to the South Carolina House. She campaigned for less than a week and defeated three male opponents by five votes to win a special election that filled a vacated York County seat. The first woman to hold a statewide office in our state was Ferdinan “Nancy” Stevenson who was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1978. In 1988 Jean Hoefer Toal became the first woman elected as a associate justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. She later became Chief Justice in 2000. Chief Justice Toal was re-elected in 2004 and 2014. In 1938 Elizabeth Hawley Gasque was the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives when she won a special election to finish her husband’s unexpired term. However, Elizabeth Johnston Patterson became the first woman to win a U.S. House seat in her own right, not filing a husband’s unexpired term. In 1986, Patterson won the U.S. House seat that had been held by U.S. Rep. Carroll Campbell, who left Congress to run for governor. It is my hope that these trailblazers will inspire the next generation of women leaders of this great state.
As with all matters concerning state government, I want to hear your opinions and suggestions concerning these issues. Please contact me in my Columbia office located at 608 Gressette Office Building. You can reach me, or a member of my staff in Columbia at (803) 212-6000 or by fax at (803) 212-6011. My district office is located at 2523 East Highway 76, Marion, SC 29571, the phone number is (843) 423-8237 and the fax number is (843) 431-6049. You may also email me at [email protected] My business phone is (843) 423-3904. Please use this information to write, call or email me with your suggestions and concerns regarding issues before the Senate and in our community.

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