On November 28th, 2020 I had the chance to interview Teresa Kaneko and her involvement in the League of Women Voters in the early 1960s. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1927, Kaneko moved to Davis in 1952.
Kaneko has always been interested in politics and she got involved with Davis LWV in the early ‘60s when it was first getting started. She recalls the history behind the Davis League, “It started by two or three women. One of them was Kathleen Green. She had moved to Davis with her husband, who was a professor, after World War II. There was no league in Davis, so she joined the Sacramento League. And then when enough people moved into Davis to start a league in Davis it actually was the Davis-Woodland League.”
When she joined the LWV she became Chairman of the Local Item. She was shocked, and stated, “I did not know how to be a chairman. I did not know how to run a committee. I didn’t know anything.” However, with time Kaneko was able to understand how the League worked.
Around the same time, Kaneko started working part time at UC Davis for the Committee of Arts and Lecture. She gives credit to the LWV for preparing her for her job. She describes that the League showed her “how to make things happen, and how to go about it”.
During her involvement with the League she worked on the county study, and observed the school board. She especially liked observing City Council because she has fond memories with bonding everyone at the end of meetings.
Kaneko remembers a moment when she was terrified while she was working with the League, but she views the memory with great fondness. She states, “It was the first I had to go up and give a report on the county study. And I was terrified. By golly, it went very well. I got up, and started talking, and pretty soon I was having a good time!”
As her job at UC Davis became more demanding and life at home became busier with her family, Kaneko stopped participating with the LWV but still maintained her membership. She says it was “like a full time job” and “it was hard to balance child care”.
Despite not being an active member today, Kaneko looks back at her time with the League with great happiness. She says, “I enjoyed the friends that I made in League, and for me it was a wonderful way to get involved other than just being a mom.”