Since its establishment in 1890, the Aberdeen city council has debated and legislated the actions of the city of Aberdeen with generally good results. Then, as now, most of the business was routine but there have also been a number of miscues and misfires over the years, all reported by the local press. Here are a few notable actions and quotes from the “First Dads”, as some early-day wag labeled the council, before Fran White became the first woman elected to that body in 1968.
NO MORE “PURITAS” – Councilman Furth objected to the expenditure of $3 per month for Puritas water and it “looked bad” to outsiders when the city furnished “pure water” to its employees, thus giving a black eye to the city water. Some of the councilmen admitted that they didn’t drink the city water themselves, but the proposition to do away with Puritas at the city hall was adopted, even after an ineffectual attempt by Councilman Wiley to have the decision rescinded on a question of reconsideration of the vote. — Aberdeen Daily World, December 9, 1909
NO MORE RINGS OF SMOKE FROM ELECTION BOOTH – Never again will election judges enjoy a fragrant Havana while counting the ballots or even while waiting for the voter to name his choice.
For this sudden change there is a reason — the result of granting the elective franchise to women. At the meeting of the city council last night an ordinance to prevent smoking at election booths was passed. The bill was introduced by Councilman John F. Myles. The penalty for violation of this ordinance is a fine of $50 and 30 days in the county jail. The ordinance was unanimously passed under suspension of the rules. — Aberdeen Daily World, December 8, 1910
AN ORDINANCE LICENSING VEHICLES WAS PASSED — The ordinance fixed the rates as follows: One horse, $10 per year; two horses, $15; additional vehicles, $7.50 and $10’ automobiles, $10 to $15. — Aberdeen Herald, November 15, 1906
NO DOG CATCHER — Mayor Benn announced that he had been unable to make Councilman Hilts attend to his duties as dog catcher, and suggested to the council the necessity of getting another man.
“I believe we should place Hilts in irons and keep him in irons until he agrees to attend to his duties,” said Councilman O’Hare.
“Don’t you think you have carried that little joke of yours far enough,” said Hilts angrily.
And the position of dog catcher is still unfilled. — Aberdeen Daily World, July 28, 1910
DINSE NAMED VETERINARIAN — Creation of the office of city veterinarian and inspector of food and dairies and the appointment of A.J. Dinse to the position at a salary of $50 a month, was the principal feature of last night’s council session. Mr. Dinse is a graduate of the Aberdeen high school, of the state college at Pullman, and a son of Robert Dinse of North Aberdeen. He will have charge of the city’s horses and inspect all foods sold in the city, and also inspect milk and dairies. The appointment is in connection with the reorganization of the health board which has been affected. Dr. Dinse will also have authority to inspect the kind of liquor sold at saloons which is one of the important duties of his position. — Aberdeen Daily World, June 16, 1910
WILL ALLOW REVOLVERS — Mayor E.B. Benn announced at the meeting of the city council last night that in view of the many holdups reported he would grant permission to all who made the request to carry guns for self-defense and that he would denominate such persons as special policemen.
“Are people being held up, your honor,” inquired Councilman Quackenbush.
“Well, I have no personal knowledge of it,” relied the mayor. — Aberdeen Daily World, October 27, 1910
A LETTER WAS READ from Miss G. Smith, Belleville, N.J., who says she is 20 years of age, good looking and a good housekeeper, and wants to marry. Referred to the only single men on the council, Quackenbush and Newell, “with power to act.” — Aberdeen Herald, June 10, 1909
COMPLAINT WAS MADE by property owners at the corner of G and Heron streets, of the nightly meetings of the Salvation Army and it was decided that the organization would hereafter have to meet on G street south of Heron street. — Aberdeen Daily World, September 22, 1910
THE SALOON LICENSED asked for by the Combination Saloon, was held up until the women now lodging on the upper floor of the building, be moved elsewhere. — Aberdeen Herald, January 20, 1910
AUTO SPEED LIMIT RAISED — Councilman Alexander’s introduction of an ordinance amending the ordinances regulating the speed of automobiles in the city limits brought on another discussion. Attorney T.B. Bruener, who was given the privilege of the floor, made an extended speech in favor of a maximum speed limit of 12 miles and declared that the eight-mile limit was unreasonable and unjust. He maintained that that the high grade high speed machine could not be run on an eight-mile limit in the city without damage to the machine and it would result in the arrest of almost every automobile owner in the city.
Councilman Quackenbush declared that the mayor [Ed Benn] had owned an auto and knew something about speed limits.
“While I owned it,” retorted the mayor, “I don’t think I went eight miles in two years.”
“I can understand that,” replied Quackenbush; but whether the reference was to the mayor’s avoirdupois [Mayor Benn was a rather portly man] or the mayor’s auto was not made clear. The amended ordinance was passed.
The new ordinance fixes the speed limit at 12 miles on Heron Street and portions of Wishkah, Market, K and First streets, and Curtis, Boone and Clark streets in South Aberdeen, and permits a 20-mile rate on other streets with the provision that horns be blown at corners on congested streets, and at corners where the vision is obscured. It also provides for proper lights at night. — Aberdeen Daily World, July 28, 1910
Roy Vataja is the son of Finnish immigrants and would to lose some his own avoirdupois if it wasn’t for his love for the biscuits and gravy at Ann Marie’s.
Edmund Burke Benn, son of Aberdeen’s founder and mayor of Aberdeen in 1909-1910. Like his father, public service was a large part of his life. He served as county sheriff and was a state senator when he passed away in Olympia in 1934.