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Looking Back At Women In Politics

From the DJN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Mike Smith
Detroit Jewish News Foundation Archivist

Well, the 2018 elections are over. We can now enjoy the lack of political advertisements on our televisions and radios and, the best part, no more robocalls!

One of the most interesting and historic aspects of the election results was the number of women across the nation who have been elected to office. In Michigan, women will hold most of the top executive offices as well as many seats in the state House and Senate. The U.S. Congress will have the highest number of female members in its history. And, Jewish women are among the elected officials.

Speaking of women in politics, I found a most interesting article during my cruises through the Davidson Digital Archive. The front page of the Jan. 10, 2003, issue of the JN featured the headline “What Makes Lana Run?” along with a full-page photo of pioneering Jewish female politician Lana Pollock. It’s a very good read.

Born and raised in the 1940s and 1950s in the only Jewish family in the northern Michigan city of Ludington, Pollock was a pioneering female legislator in Lansing. She served for 12 years as a state senator, from 1983-1994, where, for eight of those years, she was the only female Democrat in the body and, when she first took her seat, the Senate did not have a restroom for women!

Pollock also ran in a primary for the U.S. Senate from Michigan in 1994, but lost a close race. After serving in the Michigan Senate and as president of the Michigan Environmental Council from 1996-2008, Pollock was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

Whether one liked Lana Pollock’s politics or not, her love for Michigan and deep, passionate support for civil rights, protection of the environment and other issues cannot be denied. Pollock was a trailblazer for other women; in particular, Jewish women who decide to enter the political arena in Michigan. Lana is still active, living in Ann Arbor and “running” to good causes.

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

Mike Smith

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