Fifth graders turn a 'maybe' into a 'yes' vote for statue of Martha Hughes Cannon

Fifth graders turn a 'maybe' into a 'yes' vote for statue of Martha Hughes Cannon (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV)- Members of the Utah House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to send a statue of Utahn Martha Hughes Cannon to the U.S. Capitol to replace the statue of another Utah icon, Philo T. Farnsworth.

Hughes Cannon, a suffragist and women’s rights advocate, was ahead of her time.

She was the first state senator in the country, earning a seat in the state’s first election in 1896.

Before the vote, a group of fifth-grade girls from Westfield Elementary in Alpine heard their state representative, Mike Edwards, was on the fence about his vote.

They collected letters from their peers at school and marched to the Capitol before the vote to try to sway him to vote “yes.”

“He said he wouldn’t tell us his vote until he voted,” Elise Edwards said.

Elise, along with Livvy Hall, Eva Allen, Marlee Galloway and Ellie Blake went to the gallery in the house chamber and held hands while nervously awaiting the lawmaker's vote.

When it came time for Kennedy to vote, he voted “yea”.

“We were holding hands and squealing and almost crying,” Galloway said.

Rep. Kennedy said in an email:

I don’t believe I have ever met a more organized, effective, or convincing group of people than these young ladies. It was a pleasure to support their request that we send the statue of a doctor, legislator, and outstanding Utah citizen to Washington DC.

Rep. Rebecca Edwards of North Salt Lake, a sponsor of the resolution for the Cannon statue, said a committee will be formed to raise private donations for the new statue and determine the design.

Edwards will also sponsor a bill that will determine the fate of the Philo Farnsworth statue. At this point, The Smithsonian and the Territorial Statehouse in Filmore are among places where the Farnsworth statue could land.

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