We continue Black History Month by offering profiles of four accomplished Black women who have served as Arizona state legislators.
Ethel Reed Maynard
Elected in 1966, Maynard was the first African-American woman to serve in the Arizona House of Representatives. She represented Pima County District 7-B during the 28th and 29th Legislatures and Pima County District 11 during the 30th Legislature, serving from 1967 through 1973.
Read our previous blog from June 2020 for a complete look at the career of Ethel Reed Maynard.
Sandra Denise Kennedy
Sandra Kennedy represented District 23 in Maricopa County in both the House and Senate. She served in the House during the 38th through 40th Legislatures from 1987 to 1993. She was a Senator during the 41st through the 43rd Legislatures from 1993 to 1999.
Kennedy worked across the aisle to co-author and introduce Arizona’s first Domestic Violence Bill. She sponsored successful legislation for Domestic Violence Shelters, Foster Care Placement, Pre-Natal Care Education Fun, and City Powers Regarding Fair Housing. While serving in the Legislature she was also elected to the Phoenix Union High School Governing Board and appointed to serve on the Arizona Employment and Training Council.
In 2008, Kennedy was elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission on a platform of promoting solar energy in Arizona and protecting consumers, making her the first and only African American in Arizona to hold statewide office. Characteristically, she worked with the Republican majority on the Corporation Commission. and together they boosted solar energy and energy efficiency. She was reelected in 2018 on a platform of restoring integrity and transparency to the Corporation Commission, reversing unjustified rate increases, and creating more solar and renewable energy in Arizona.
Always active in the community, Kennedy’s volunteer projects include youth programs, promoting business and community service groups, and her church. Kennedy’s many years in public service and her commitment to work on issues without regard to partisan labels have made her an exceptionally effective public servant.
More on Sandra Kennedy:
2008 Statewide and legislative candidate statement: Primary Election. (2008). Page 14(15). Retrieved from Arizona Memory Project: https://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/statepubs/id/20454
2012 Statewide and legislative candidate statement: Primary Election. (2008). Page 12(13). Retrieved from Arizona Memory Project: https://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/statepubs/id/20459
State of Arizona official canvass, general election- November 4, 2008. (2008). Page 13. Retrieved from Arizona Memory Project: https://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/statepubs/id/35684
Herschella L. Horton
Herschella Horton represented District 14 in Pima County during the 40th through the 44th Legislatures, from 1991 to 2001. She was elected by her caucus to serve as the Minority Whip and served throughout the 43rd Legislature. In 1999 she was elected Assistant Majority Leader and served during the 44th Legislature. She served on the Health, Environment, Appropriations, Block Grants, and Rules committees. After leaving the Legislature she served as Director of Legislative Services with the Arizona Department of Economic Security.
A registered nurse with a degree in Management, Horton’s public service has reflected her interests in health care and social services, consistently bringing her management skills and empathetic approach to the work. In addition to her legislative work, she has been active in many professional and civic organizations, including the United Way, the National Order of Women Legislators, la Paloma Family Services, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Arizona Child Advocacy Center, and the Sunstone Cancer Foundation.
Horton was named as Legislator of the Year in 1994 by the Maricopa Mental Health Association and the Arizona Association of Home and Housing for the Aging. The same year she was recognized as Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers. In 1995 she received the Tucson NOW Woman of Courage Award and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award.
She was honored in 2007 with a brick added to the Women’s Plaza of Honor on the campus of the University of Arizona. One of the sponsors of her nomination explained:
Herschella has volunteered for so many organizations and done so many things! There have been many times when she is the only African American in the room or at the table. She has been asked why she was not part of the Urban League and responded that the Urban League has great representation. She wants to be at the table where a diverse perspective is needed…She is someone who will give you a hug because you look like you needed one.
Horton’s spirit of volunteerism and commitment to children and social issues have made immeasurable contributions to Arizona.
More on Herschella Horton:
State of Arizona official canvass, general election- November 3, 1998. (1998). Page 7. Retrieved from Arizona Memory Project: https://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/statepubs/id/35681
Leah Landrum Taylor
Leah Landrum Taylor represented the 23rd District in Maricopa County in the House during the 44th and 45th Legislatures and the 16th District in the House during the 46th and 47th Legislatures. She continued representing District 16 in the Senate, where she served during the 48th through the 50th Legislatures. During the 51st Legislature she represented District 27 in 2013 and District 28 in 2014 in the Senate. She served as Minority Whip and Assistant Minority Leader in the House and Assistant Minority Leader and Minority Leader in the Senate.
Even before her election to the Arizona Legislature, Landrum Taylor had distinguished herself as a leader. She is an alumna of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, and is an Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow of Emerging Political Leaders in America. Her community service work includes volunteering as a board member of the YMCA Youth Initiatives Board, Arizona Caucus chair for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, and as an advisor to the Arizona Children’s Association. She is a founder of the Landrum Foundation, a non-profit that provides financial support and preparation for students throughout their post-secondary education.
Landrum Taylor served in the Arizona Legislature for sixteen years, from 1999 to 2015, focusing on education, environmental, adoption, foster care, and homelessness issues. She worked as an adjunct faculty member at Maricopa Community College. Always interested in the wellbeing of children, she followed her work at the Legislature with a position as the Special Projects Director for the Arizona Department of Education and as a deputy assistant director for the Division of Child Support Services at the Arizona Department of Economic Security. She holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Political Science and has written and spoken on important civil rights issues, including the opportunities available to members of the African American community, educational programs for migrant students, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday controversy in Arizona.
More on Leah Landrum Taylor:
Landrum, L. N. (1991). The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday controversy in Arizona : when politics becomes theater. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3bvguLi
State of Black Arizona : Speech Given by Senator Leah Landrum Taylor for African-American Legislative Days. (2008). pp58-60. Retrieved from ASU Library Digital Repository: https://repository.asu.edu/attachments/111575/content/Black%20Arizona,%20vol%201_SuppEssays.pdf