On April 18, 1950 Cora Swingle was inducted onto the Escondido City Council. She was the first woman to take a seat on the council since the city was incorporated in 1888.
Swingle defeated seven other candidates—all men—and topped the April 11 ballot with 486 votes. Escondido had a population of about 6, 500 in 1950.
Swingle was a onetime newspaper woman in Iowa who had operated a ranch owned a printing business after moving to the Escondido area. She retired from business activities after the death of her husband and devoted her time to public causes. She was, in the words of one Union writer, “a vociferous critic of past city administrations.”
Swingle died in office on Aug. 24, 1951 following a heart attack. She was 82.
Two decades later Lorraine Boyce became the second woman elected to the Escondido City Council. Boyce served from 1970 to 1978 and became the city’s first woman mayor in 1974.
From The San Diego Union, Friday, April 14, 1950:
Woman, 81, To Take City Council Seat
ESCONDIDO, April 13 (Special) – Escondido’s newly elected councilwoman, Mrs. Cora Alice Swingle, 81, will be inducted into office at Tuesday’s council meeting. Winner of a field of nine candidates, she said, “People got behind me and said, ‘We’ve got to help you.’ So I decided to become a candidate.”
Mrs. Swingle didn’t like the way the city administration was run, and constantly bombarded the daily Times-Advocate with letters complaining about it. Among her major peeves were the City Council’s “secret meetings and high taxes—”so high they bury you.’’ That’s her platform now-no more secret meetings and a reduction of taxes.
ONE SPEECH MADE
“I made only one speech during the campaign’’ she said. “It was at the men’s forum of the Episcopal Church. All the other candidates were there, and I demanded that I be the last speaker. I wanted to see what the men had to say.
“When my turn came to speak, all I said was, ‘If I received every vote in Escondido, you couldn’t make me a councilman! I’d be a councilwoman. Will Rogers said that if you can get a man to talk about himself, you’ll never hear anything wrong. And Calvin Coolidge said that if you don’t say anything you can’t be misquoted”
And then I sat down. People laughed. I never saw a crowd laugh so hard. I believe in women surprising people.”
She said she didn’t spend a dime on her campaign. It was carried on by her friends, many of whom used the telephone in her behalf.
“Now that I’m councilwoman I’ll do my best,” Mrs. Swingle said. “I expect to make some mistakes.” Speaking of her home life, she said. “I don’t do much now. I just sit and crochet. I read a lot and have time to study issues.”