Ed J. Davenport and Harriett Davenport

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Ed J. Davenport (1899–1953) and Harriett Davenport, a married couple, were both members of the Los Angeles, California, City Council, the wife succeeding her husband in the position after he died in 1953. It was the first of two such spousal turnovers in the history of the city. Harriett Davenport was the third woman council member in the city's history and the first to be appointed by the council.

Ed and Harriett Davenport

Biographies[edit]

Ed Davenport was born February 9, 1899, in Pittsburgh or McKeesport, Pennsylvania, the son of John Wesley Davenport of Fort Hamilton, New York.[1][2]

He studied business administration at the University of Pittsburgh and law at Southwestern University. In his working life, he was in the advertising business in Upstate New York from 1920 to 1926 and then was general manager of a department store in Utica, New York, from 1926 to 1929. He then became advertising and public relations manager for Frank Knox, the general manager of Hearst Publications, from 1929 to 1932, after which he moved to California and started his own agency.[1]

Harriett Goodmanson, who was born in Victoria, British Columbia, was brought to the United States when she was less than a year old and became a U.S. citizen through the citizenship of her father. She attended high school in Bellingham, Washington, the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley. She taught high school for four years in Chehalis, Washington.[3][4]

Ed and Harriett were married in August 1935 in Seattle, Washington. They had no children.[1]

Ed Davenport died in his sleep on June 24. 1953, at the age of 54. In addition to his wife, he left his mother, Margaret Davenport of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and five siblings, Annamae Osterman, Alice Clarke, Catherine Bast and Harry Davenport, all of McKeesport, and Sister Mary Catherine, a Catholic nun of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania. He was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale.[2]

Civic activities[edit]

Ed Davenport was a member of the American Council on Public Relations and the Elks. He was a Catholic and, for most of his life, a Democrat, until he switched to the Republicans in 1948.[1] During World War II he was coordinator of the War Production Fund of the National Safety Council and was also director of War Chests and Community Chest for city of Glendale.[5][6]

Harriett Davenport "took some part" in the Small Property Owners' League, in Pro America and in groups of the Chamber of Commerce.[3]

City Council[edit]

Elections[edit]

See also List of Los Angeles municipal election returns, 1945–59

Ed Davenport was elected in 1945 to fill the Los Angeles City Council District 12 seat vacated by John W. Baumgartner, who retired. At that time, the district included Bunker Hill and northwest downtown, with the east and north boundaries at Glendale Boulevard and at Sunset Boulevard. He was reelected in every succeeding primary vote thereafter, up to and including 1959. He died six days before he was to start his last term.

Appointment[edit]

In a unanimous vote by the City Council, Harriett Davenport was appointed to the 6th District seat on September 1, 1953, two months after her husband's death, the term to last until June 30, 1955. There were two other leading contenders for the council vacancy, Ransom M. Callicott, restaurant executive, and Geraldine Hadsell, minute clerk for the State Assembly, but Mrs. Davenport gained a majority of City Council votes in a closed caucus, and the vote was made unanimous later the same day.[3] It was the first of two times that a wife succeeded her husband to a councilmanic seat, the second occurring in 1975, when Peggy Stevenson took over from Robert Stevenson after his death. Harriett Davenport was the third female council member, after Estelle Lawton Lindsey (elected 1915)[7] and Rosalind Wiener Wyman (elected May 1953).[3]

In 1954 she announced she would not run for election the next year because of the ill health of her sister.[8] She was later appointed by Mayor Norris Poulson to the city's Fire and Police Pension Commission.[9]

Positions[edit]

Ed Davenport[edit]

Ed Davenport was known as a "stormy petrel" of Los Angeles politics and was called "one of the most colorful figures in city legislative history and an active participant in every controversial issue brought before the Council." He was said to have introduced more resolutions, often controversial, than any other council member. He "took a prominent part in enactment of the city employees' loyalty oath program."[2] One of his resolutions would have required "all members of the Communist Party living here" to register with the chief of police.[10] He was "an ardent foe of public housing and of Communism in any form and was an equally ardent champion of a foreign trade zone for the Los Angeles Harbor."[11]

Other positions taken:

1945, Bowron. He refused to attend a meeting called by Mayor Fletcher Bowron with other City Council members because he believed that the press, as well as members of a taxpayers' group, should have been invited. He and the mayor quarreled in public for some ten minutes about the issue.[12]

1945–46, interracial. Davenport originally supported a proposal to establish an interracial committee devoted to the interests of minority groups but finally voted with an 8-6 majority to kill the ordinance, without prejudice.[13] The next year, though, he introduced an ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor for anyone to "write, print or publish, or in any other way aid in the dissemination of any material 'which exposes any religious or racial group to ridicule, contempt or hatred, or which tends to disturb the public peace or endanger life or property.' " It was sent to a committee for study.[14]

1947, Communism. He introduced a resolution stating that "the Communist press has announced that Los Angeles is a key city for concentration of the Communist party and this is borne out by the candidacy of LaRue McCormick, a Communist Party member running as a Communist against Eleanor B. Allen, member of the Board of Education."[15]

1947, oil. Another resolution called for an end to gasoline and oil shipments from Los Angeles Harbor to the Soviet Union "to stop this Russian drain of American resources so vital to our national defense and domestic economy."[16]

1949, landmark. A resolution by Davenport was instrumental in halting the proposed destruction of the historic Lugo House on the Los Angeles Plaza as planned by the city Board of Public Works.[17] It was later destroyed anyway.

1953, employment. He opposed the establishment of a Fair Employment Practices Commission, which, he said, "does nothing except give an extra tool to the Communists."[18]

1953, campaign literature. One of his last resolutions, which was adopted by the City Council, asked the city attorney to research the law on outlawing "election campaign smear sheets."[19]

Harriett Davenport[edit]

1953, policies. Asked by a reporter after her election what her stand on policies would be, she replied, "I stand where my husband stood, and I will check his voting record as a guide."[3]

1955, salaries. She urged passage of a charter amendment raising council pay, stating that the then-current salary of $600 a month was "nowhere near adequate, equitable or reasonable" and that "The pressure on the councilman never ends. His days consist of tensions, stormy sessions and forced decisions."[20]

References[edit]

Access to the Los Angeles Times links may require the use of a library card.

  1. ^ a b c d Ed Davenport's Los Angeles Public Library reference file No. 1
  2. ^ a b c "Councilman Ed Davenport Dies in Sleep," Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1953, page 1
  3. ^ a b c d e "Davenport Widow Gets Council Seat,"Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1953, page 1
  4. ^ "13 Interviewed for Council Post," Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1953, page 2
  5. ^ Ed Davenport's Los Angeles Public Library reference file No. 2
  6. ^ "James Roosevelt Hits Back at Ed Davenport," Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1948, page 2
  7. ^ Dave Lesher, "The Unsinkable Roz Wyman," Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2000, footnote at bottom
  8. ^ "Mrs. Davenport Decides Not to Be a Candidate," Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1954, page 2
  9. ^ Los Angeles Public Library reference file
  10. ^ "Registration of Reds Urged by Councilman," Los Angeles Times, July 7, 1950
  11. ^ "Eulogies Voiced for Ed Davenport," Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1953, page A-1
  12. ^ "Mayor in Tiff at Tax Session," Los Angeles Times, November 229, 1945, page A-1
  13. ^ "Interracial Plan Dropped," Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1945, page A-1
  14. ^ "Council Blocks 'Contempt' Law," Los Angeles Times, March 26, 1946, page A-1
  15. ^ "Issue of Communism Stirs City Council Row," Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1947, page 8
  16. ^ accountid=6749 "Oil to Russ Stirs Debate in Council," Los Angeles Times, June 21, 1947, page A-1
  17. ^ "Historic Lugo House Saved by Council From Demolition," Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1949, page A-1
  18. ^ "Political Wars Suit Davenport," Los Angeles Times, April 1, 1953, page 1
  19. ^ "Council Votes to Seek Legal Halt to Smears," Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1953, page 14
  20. ^ "Mrs. Davenport Urges Pay Raise for Council," Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1955, page 17

Ed J. Davenport
Preceded by
John W. Baumgartner
Los Angeles City Council
12th district

1945–53
Succeeded by
Harriett Davenport
Harriett Davenport
Preceded by
Ed J. Davenport
Los Angeles City Council
12th district

1953–55
Succeeded by
Ransom M. Callicott