The Illinois Equal Suffrage Association became the Illinois League of Women Voters soon after the Nineteenth Amendment became the law of the land. The League of Women Voters of Illinois continues today as a nonpartisan resource for voter education and advocate for issues important to League members.
Anna Wilkinson for Mayor
In February 1929, the Alton Evening Telegraph began to buzz with rumors that former women’s suffrage activist Anna Wilkinson∗ would run for mayor in the upcoming election on April 2. If so, she would be Alton’s first woman mayoral candidate. Although persistently urged by her supporters to run, Wilkinson did not declare her candidacy until March 13. In a telephone interview, Wilkinson explained:
[T]elephone messages of an intimidating character were sent to me. I was told I would be better if I stayed out of the contest as disclosures would be made if I became a candidate which would be embarrassing. Those messages made me certain that I would be a candidate.
—Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 14, 1929.
Two more latecomers announced their candidacies (former mayor George T. Davis and incumbent Thomas Butler), joining Wilkinson and attorney William Wilson in the mayoral race.
Challengers Davis, Wilkinson, and Wilson met to discuss their chances against the incumbent, Butler. They decided that two of them should drop out of the race to avoid splitting the anti-Butler vote. However, each candidate wanted to be the one to remain on the ticket. Finally Wilkinson decided to withdraw and let the other two candidates hash it out. Her husband delivered her decision to the office of the city clerk on March 20, just minutes before the 5:00 p.m. deadline.
Despite their professed intentions, both Davis and Wilson remained in the race. Wilkinson didn’t endorse either candidate, and Butler won reelection on April 2.
∗For more about Anna Wilkinson, see exhibit page An Illinois Constitutional Convention.