Pearl A. Wanamaker

Pearl A. Wanamaker
Pearl A. Wanamaker (Democrat) represented [the 50th District Senate - 1929-1931; the 38th District House - 1933-1937; Senate - 1937-1940] of Island and Snohomish Counties in the House of Representatives for three terms, beginning in 1928. In 1937 Representative Wanamaker was appointed to the Senate. She was elected to that position in 1938, and resigned in 1940 to serve as Superintendent of Public Education.

Born 1899, in Washington, Wanamaker was raised in a family that encouraged their children's political interests. Wanamaker originally wanted to be an electrical engineer, but her parents disappoved. Instead, she studied French and Spanish at the University of Washington where she received her B.A. Wanamaker worked as a teacher and soon rose to the position of principal of a Whidbey Island school.

Her Whidbey Island neighbors urged Wanamaker to run for the Legislature because they felt she could effectively fight for a bridge connecting the island to the mainland. She agreed to try and was elected in 1928. Though it took several years, the Deception Pass bridge was authorized in 1933. However, her primary concern in the Legislature was always for the schools. The majority of improvements made in educational programs between 1922 and 1941 are directly attributable to her dynamic leadership. With an indomitable spirit she politicked in Olympia like they had never seen before. Penny-pinching legislators reluctant to go along with her school budgets would groan, "She drives right into your hometown and tells your constituents you're voting against their kids."

Among Senator Wanamaker's many legislative accomplishments are the addition of 875 buildings to the school system, an increase in teachers' minimum salaries, and the passage of the Showalter bill, which provided basic state support for students.

-- Political Pioneers, The Women Lawmakers