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Auburn Pays Tribute to 1st Woman to Serve on City Council


The City of Auburn has honored the first woman to serve on its city council.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, a memorial was unveiled in council chambers in honor of Ann Bunker, the first woman elected to Auburn City Council.

The inscription on the memorial reads as follows:

Ann E. Bunker: A Trailblazer in Auburn’s City Government. Ann E. Bunker made history in 1989 when she became the first woman to be elected to the City Council of Auburn, just a few years before the city’s bicentennial celebration. Serving two consecutive four-year terms as a City Councilor from 1990 to 1997, she dedicated her life to serving her hometown. Her colleagues and clients knew her as an unwavering advocate for justice, a committed attorney, a tireless women’s rights leader, and a discerning decision-maker within the municipal government. Her groundbreaking work opened the door for other women to serve in elected offices both in Auburn’s City Hall and beyond.

Since Bunker, seven women have served on the city council. Former councilors include Melina Carnicelli (who would later serve as mayor), Gilda Brower, Debra McCormick, and Dia Carabajal. Three of those seven are currently on the council: Ginny Kent, Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson, and Christina Calarco. Before the unveiling, each one spoke about the effect Bunker had on their lives and political careers.

“[It was] great to see the elegance of her action, how she went on, studied law, and led the way for us in such a quiet and dignified and extremely effective and thorough way. So, I thank her for that, her tremendous example,” said Brower.

“I, unfortunately, did not have the privilege of knowing and working with Ann, but I do know that what she did paved the way for me to do the things that I have been able to accomplish in life,” said Calarco.

Speaking on FLX Morning, City Clerk Chuck said she was a dedicated public servant.

“I had the opportunity to work with Ann and know her when I first got on City Council myself back in the 1990s, and she really was a dedicated public servant and continued even after she was off the city council,” Mason said. “She was constantly involved in the community.”

Bunker became the first woman elected to the council in 1989. She died on November 3. Later that month, Auburn elected its first female majority council.

You can view the full ceremony on the city’s website.

Portrait of Fmr. Councilor Ann Bunker in Council Chambers. (Provided)


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