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Boyer, Murdock honored as women of leadership

April 28, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

The focus wasn't as much about who did what first as it was about how much Nancy Boyer and Florence Murdock opened doors for future women running for public office in Washington County.

Boyer was one of the first elected members of the Washington County School Board. Murdock was the first female member of the Hagerstown City Council and served as a board member at Hagerstown Community College.

The women received the "Life of Leadership" award Thursday from local political action committee Women At The Table (WATT) at Fountain Head Country Club.

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WATT is a nonpartisan organization that encourages women to run for public office.

The award is given to women with a history of community service and those who have encouraged other women to participate in public affairs, said WATT chairwoman N. Sharon Leatherman.

"This is the most flattering thing that has ever happened to me," said Murdock, who lives in Hagerstown. "I look around and see so many friends, so many phenomenal people."

Boyer, also a Hagerstown resident, said receiving the award was a humbling experience.

"I really do feel that I am accepting this award under false pretenses," she said.

Boyer later explained that she felt she learned more from her supporters and political associates than she felt they had learned from her. Boyer made a run for a Washington County Commissioners seat in 1978. While she was the first woman to make it past the primary, she lost in the general election.

"Many in the community didn't take a woman seriously as far as running the government was concerned," Boyer said. "They might be willing to trust you with kids' education or public health or something like that, but they weren't to willing to trust women with policy decisions."

Murdock said despite all of her firsts, she never felt discriminated against.

"I was, however, shall I say, getting a finger pointed at because I was elected and not appointed," she said.

Murdock, who served as the city's treasurer from 1978 to 1985, was appointed to the council in 1985 after the death of councilman Jim Resh.

WATT officials said that local women have made several political gains. This is the first time there has been a female majority on Hagerstown's five-member city council, officials said Thursday.

WATT vice-chairwoman Judy Lyons Wolf said more needs to be done.

"I think (women) need to know they're supported because they're still pioneers," Wolf said.

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